Following the untimely demise of former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant on Sunday, Kenyan social media was packed with posts of shock and grief as the basketball players and coaches mourned the NBA legend.
Kobe, one of basketball’s all-time greats whose sporting appeal transcended the United States, was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles, home to the only team he ever played for: The Los Angeles Lakers.
The news of the 41-year-old’s death sent shock waves through the sport world and beyond, with tributes pouring in from sports figures, politicians and fans around the world and Kenyan basketball players and coaches have not been left behind.
The national women’s basketball team captain Hilda Indasi mourned Kobe as one of the most global-facing athletes NBA has ever produced.
“Any coach would want to work with a player that’s self-driven. Doing six hours a day for six days in a week was proof enough that Kobe was a hard worker.
“What really stood out for me was the fact that he put in all this work off season. He would have chosen to go on vacation and eaten whatever kinds of food. Kobe gave himself one day of rest in a week.
“Michael Jordan himself acknowledged the work ethic and said only Bryant put in enough work to deserve a comparison with him,” She recalled.
Indasi revealed she drew inspiration from the NBA great and managed to carve a successful career in basketball.
“I developed an interest in Kobe and his game when I was in campus. The two coaches I worked with used to refer to me as ‘Black Mamba’ saying I played with the same mentality as Kobe to destroy the opponent.
“The thing I admire most about Kobe was his humility off court. One of the journalists who interviewed him on CNN showed him a photo they took years back.
“He thanked him for having taken his time to sign autographs and take pictures with his fans, not all athletes would just do that and it made Kobe generally a good person,” she added.
On his part, Storms women basketball team head coach Abel Nson who also scouts for the Toronto Raptors in Africa described Kobe as one of the best in the world.
“After Michael Jordan and Lebron James, Kobe was the man. He molded my prime years of basketball. Like him, I was not very social towards teammates and fans but I was aggressive to the extent of being annoying and my teammates would know I am always competitive. To his family and personal friends may soul Rest in Peace,”he mourned.
Kenya’s basketball premier league side KPA captain Brenda Angeshi revealed that she sharpened her shooting skills after Kobe.
“I regularly watched him play when I growing up because he made me fall in love with the sport. He inspired me and I wanted to play just like him, especially the way he could shoot.
“My heart goes out to all the families affected especially his wife being a mother myself I wouldn’t want to imagine losing not only a husband but a child,” she told Citizen Digital.
Brenda’s sentiments were echoed by KPA men head coach Sammy Kiki who added that Bryant made the NBA and the Lakers fun to watch.
“It’s so sad this has happened, he was one of the greatest players in the world. LA Lakers has always been my favourite and not only basketball fraternity will miss him but the sports fraternity in the world,” Kiki mourned Kobe.
Ulinzi Warriors captain John Washika referred to Kobe as his biggest motivation.
“He’s the one who motivated me to play this game that has made me the man I am today,” he told.
Victor Bosire who turns out for Ulinzi Warriors and national men team Morans said Kobe was a true motivation to everyone who watched him play.
“Kobe was an inspiration and role model to all of us basketball lovers. He taught us never to give up despite the circumstances.
Lakeside head coach John Ogilo reckoned how the ‘Mamba’ mentality that Kobe advocated for transformed them game of basketball.
“He was a feared player who everyone wanted to play like him and always said you either play hard or go home,” he grieved.
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