CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — From the president of the United States to the everyday fan, people stopped what they were doing to remember and pay their respects to Kobe Bryant who died Sunday.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter died in a helicopter crash along with seven others.
It has been argued that Bryant was one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. His impact stretched far beyond the court — all the way to Cedar Springs.
“As soon as I found out, I actually grabbed my Kobe Bryant jersey,” Austin Adams said. “I haven’t worn this thing in like years and now I’m wearing it today because of this tragedy. Not a fun day today. Today’s pretty sad.”
Though he never met the basketball icon, Adams fondly calls Kobe one of his idols: someone he models himself after.
“He was a great motivator, he empowered everyone around him to be better, to try harder,” Adams said. “It feels like we lost a part of our family, even though you don’t know him, you know?”
To pay his respects, Adams called his friends and organized a pickup basketball game at Cedar Springs Middle School. 20 to 30 players showed up.
“I called a whole bunch of friends. They all lost their minds a little bit. They couldn’t wrap it around their heads honestly. They thought I was lying at first,” Adams said. “There’s guys here now that are wearing Lakers jerseys like I am, so we’re just here to support him pretty much, his family and just do the things that we all have done our whole lives and Kobe’s done his whole life.”
A life and career often measured in the accolades; titles, championships, scoring titles and MVPs. More important to Adams is the family and legacy Bryant now leaves behind.
“It’s gut wrenching honestly because now it’s about his family too. All the families that are involved,” Adams said. “They’ll remember him as one of the greatest of all time. If not the greatest, I think he’s the greatest, but you know everyone has their own opinion.”