ORLANDO, Fla. — As the news about Kobe Bryant sent shock waves across the country, people in Florida, especially in Orlando, reacted to the sad news.
- The Lakers' legend was honored at the Amway Center
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others were killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside during a thick morning fog in Southern California on Sunday.
Among those killed in the crash were John Altobelli, 56, longtime head coach of Southern California’s Orange Coast College baseball team; his wife, Keri; and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, said Altobelli’s brother, Tony, who is the sports information director at the school.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley tweeted that the dead also included Christina Mauser, a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school. Her husband, Matt Mauser, founded the Tijuana Dogs, a popular Orange County band. In a Facebook post he said: “My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash.”
Authorities say it will likely take days to recover the bodies.
The Amway Center is where the NBA community reacted to the sad news. And part of the Amway Center, where the Orlando Magic play, is lit up in gold and purple — the colors of the Los Angeles Lakers — where Bryant played for his entire NBA career.
During the Magic's game on Sunday night there was a moment of silence for the 41-year-old Philadelphia native.
"The Orlando Magic, LA Clippers and the entire NBA family send out thoughts and prayers to the Bryant family," the announcer said.
Bryant's two jersey numbers during his 20-years as an LA Laker — 24 and 8 — could be seen throughout the arena as fans held up jerseys and paid tribute to the basketball superstar.
In fact, both teams started off the game by holding the ball — the LA Clippers for 24 seconds — then the Magic for 8 seconds — out of respect to Bryant.
Bryant is not only remembered for his greatness on the court, but also how he helped up and coming players get better at the game. Magic star Aaron Gordon talked about how he will miss Bryant.
"He's a very unique individual, a very fierce competitor. It's sad. Personally and selfishly I don't get to develop a relationship with him," he said.
Gordon says he actually worked out with Bryant this past summer, with Bryant helping him to get better as a player.
Other players shared their memories and thoughts about Bryant.
"I just talked to him like two weeks ago, so it was like, even more crazy. I don't really know what to say, really. He was just a great player," recalled former Laker Michael Beasley.
Others, like Portland's Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, said that Bryant's impact on the game cannot be replaced.
"His impact on the game and players and coaches, everybody individually is going to be missed and it can't be replaced," he said.
Not far away from the Amway Center on Sunday was the NFL Pro Bowl. This year — the rain stayed away — but there was still a somber mood at times during the game with at one point Pro Bowl fans paying tribute to Bryant with even some fans chanting "Kobe."
Bryant was remembered at all eight NBA games played on Sunday night.
There are memorials across the country honoring Bryant — even the mayor of the Japanese city of Kobe, who Bryant is said to be named after, offered his condolences, saying their city had the good fortune of crossing paths with the former basketball star.
Authorities remained at the scene of the crash overnight, trying to figure out what caused the helicopter to go down.
"Given the terrain and the conditions of the site, we expect this will take at least a couple of days to complete the recovery," said Dr. Jonathan Lucas, the Los Angeles County medical examiner-coroner.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.