Tampa Bay residents react to tragic death of NBA star Kobe Bryant

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Kobe Bryant’s impact went far beyond professional basketball. The rest of the world is now reeling from the news of his death.

The way basketball is played on local courts is very much shaped by the legacy of the Black Mamba.

“My friend called me, he was like, ‘Did you hear about Kobe?’ I was like, ‘What about Kobe?’ ‘You know he passed away?’ I was like, ‘Man that’s crazy,” said Tim Felder.

Felder spent his Sunday playing basketball at Julian B. Lane Park in Downtown Tampa.

The love of the game had this former basketball player thinking about losing one of the greats.

“I grew up watching Kobe and Lebron and all them. It kind of hurt me a little,” said Mario Jackson, who also came out to play some basketball.

At only 41 years old, the NBA legend had just retired not too long ago. The suddenness of his death shocked fans.

“I just don’t know. I’m at a loss for words. Nobody expected that you know,” Felder said.

Among the 9 killed in Sunday’s crash was Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. As an aspiring basketball star, she had already started inspiring other young girls.

“I thought it was really sad that someone so young passed away so quick, that their lives just flashed like that in the blink of an eye,” said Jaesyn Speights.

At the Skills Center in Tampa, where boys and girls are taught the game of basketball, young athletes grew up watching him play and borrowing his moves, on the court and on their feet.

“He had an impact on the community, the basketball community. Not only that, he had an amazing impact on the game,” said Chris Ward, a coach at the Skills Center.

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