ORLANDO – Orlando Magic fans were at a loss for words and heartbroken on Sunday after hearing the news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away tragically in a helicopter crash in California.
“Kobe is everything to me,” said Leonardo Bosch.
Richard Defrestis said he has been a fan of Bryant even though he is also a Magic fan.
“A big loss today to NBA fans and everyone who knew Kobe Bryant,” Defrestis said. “I feel for him and the family. I have my own 9-year-old daughter.”
Ahead of Sunday’s game against the L.A. Clippers, many fans paid tribute to Bryant.
“I just represent Kobe Bryant,” said Barbara Mills.
Fans were still trying to make sense of the tragic news.
“He was a role model,” said Elston Gibson. “I wore 24 in high school and college because of him.”
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also on board and died. Kobe and Gianna Bryant were two of nine people who died.
“He had the charisma, the personality, he was a good guy, he helped the community, he did everything," said Greg Ellis, who was in town from Los Angeles this weekend. “Everything you want to see a basketball player do. He was a role model for young kids.”
Andres Navarro has been a lifelong Bryant fan since childhood and said he is more than a basketball legend.
“He’s my childhood hero,” Navarro said. “So many people from LA, friends, family, we grew up with him.”
Magic fan Clara Adams won’t forget her first time seeing Bryant in Orlando.
“I saw Kobe when he got started in 1996 when they came here and played the Magic,” she said.