NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — From fans flocking to stores to try to get Kobe jerseys to high school basketball players heartbroken on the court, countless are upset over the loss of their hero.
To many, Kobe Bryant was more than just a basketball player: He was an idol.
“He was a family man, an icon in basketball,” Crown Heights resident Jason Parker told CBS2’s Jessica Layton on Monday, the day after Bryant and eight others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif.
“He played with some of the greatest. A legend is gone,” said Jahlon Willard of Harlem.
“I wasn’t the best basketball player, but I always pictured him in the back of my head, and what would he do, and he would keep going,” added Jack Dweck of Coney Island.
After news of Bryant’s tragic death, fans from all over have been looking to honor his legacy by purchasing his jersey. They’re now finding it almost impossible to track one down, even at Manhattan’s NBA store, where workers said they received a large shipment of jerseys early Monday morning. By noon, customers said they were sold out.
“It’s kind of sad, but under the circumstances, I understand,” said Malcolm Brooks of Chicago.
Kobe inspired generations of basketball players, including a group of teenagers who came out to pay tribute and cope with the loss on the court.
“We are playing for Kobe,” said Jiden Gill of East Harlem.
“We threw up a lot of Kobe shots, the backspins and fadeaways, and yell out his name,” said Crown Heights resident Katrell Price.
“Just hurt because we grew up watching Kobe,” said Miguel Ledsma of Washington Heights.
The teens said it wasn’t just his skills they admired, but his determination and flair.
“He represented greatness, to inspire to do what you wanted to be,” said Jesus Rodriguez. “He was the man you would see as a role model if you didn’t have one in real life.”
The 18-time NBA All-Star dedicated much of his life to charity, granting more than 250 wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was also an honorary ambassador of the nonprofit After School All Stars.
“He taught you no matter what, even if you are having a bad day, you can make it your best, still always have time to turn stuff around,” said 12-year-old Shepherd Krents.
On or off the court, Kobe was always sheer motivation to fans, no matter the age.
Among the other people killed in the crash was longtime Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa.
John Altobelli is being remembered by those whose lives he touched, including New York Mets star Jeff McNeil.
Tough to hear the news of coach Altobelli. One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball. Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today https://t.co/efAyf3s7Hj
— Jeff McNeil (@JeffMcNeil805) January 26, 2020
“Tough to hear the news of Coach Altobelli. One of my favorite coaches I have ever played for, and one of the main reasons I got a chance to play professional baseball. Both the baseball and basketball world lost a great one today,” McNeil wrote on Twitter.