NEWBURY PARK, Calif. - Fans are still trying to come to terms with the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Many fans took time out of their day Monday to pay their respects at the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park.
“This is just a bad dream,” said Jonathon Rosales, from Santa Clarita. “I woke thinking it was still a bad dream.”
Fans were not ready to accept the loss of the NBA great. Many, including Rosales, drove out to the facility to honor Bryant.
“I would have made the drive no matter what,” said Rosales. “Whether it was me being late to work or what. I do not care. I just wanted to be here and donate my jersey there. I just had too.”
He wasn’t the only one. Fans brought flowers, jerseys, hats, souvenirs, balloons and posters of the athlete who many say was the greatest of all time.
“I grew up throwing a paper ball or a sock in a trash can and you would say Kobe,” said Rosales. “You do not hear people say MJ, or Lebron, you say Kobe. Hit or miss, we carry him inside.”
A group of Amgen workers used their lunch break to walk over and pay their respects.
“We have a group text all things Lakers and we are always texting back and forth,” said Uel Leite, who works at Amgen. “I found out walking out of Church yesterday from the group text. Sunday night we said 'hey let's go walk down to the Mamba Academy' so it was a no brainer.”
Bryant was on his way to the Mamba Sports Academy Sunday morning when his helicopter crashed in Calabasas, killing 9 people on board. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among those killed. The basketball star partnered with the sports academy back in December of 2018 and coached his daughter Gianna’s basketball team.
“What is even more heartbreaking to know is that not just my hero and idol died but his daughter,” said Rosales who was shedding tears. “I am a new father right now and my daughter is one and for him at that moment held her. You can’t do anything to protect her. I can not imagine that.”
Many remembering what an amazing athlete Kobe Bryant was, and also an outstanding human being.
“I just recently saw a picture on Instagram of him directing traffic after a major accident happened,” said Leite. “So here is a guy that is an amazing super star, but was so just down to earth to be willing to help people out.”