By Ann Brunn
“Everyone will remember where they were when they heard about Kobe,” wrote a fan on Twitter, “when a giant falls, the world feels it.”
These words felt palpable the moment Kobe Bryant’s death was confirmed on Jan. 26. News of the helicopter crash, which also took the life of his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others, was the only subject on social media as stunned fans from across the world processed the news and paid tribute to their hero.
To many, Kobe Bryant was more than just a basketball star— he was an inspiration to those who love the game, which holds true for players at the College.
“It is extremely heartbreaking that we will never get to see the impact that Kobe and his daughter would have had, but their dedication to basketball will never be forgotten,” said Elle Cimillluca, the junior captain of the women’s basketball team. “Kobe’s impact on the world was much bigger than basketball.”
Matt Goldsmith, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the College, looked to Bryant as an inspiration not just for the sport, but for his character.
“There was no one more competitive or who worked harder,” Goldsmith said. “As a player and still to this day as a coach, if I need a little motivation on a certain day, I will fire up a speech or a workout from Kobe on YouTube and it will get me ready to roll every single time. There are just not that many competitors like that in the world. He was a special person and someone I looked up to for years.”
Goldsmith credited Bryant for having a character that was bigger than the game of basketball, as his skills off the court transcended into something greater and more impactful than what he did on the hardwood.
Sterling White, a sophomore guard for the men’s basketball team, also found himself deeply affected by the news.
“I always idolized Kobe for his work ethic, charismatic and relentless personality, and the way he carried himself on and off the court,” he said. “Even though I never personally met Kobe, the feeling and emotion he gave me definitely impacted my life positively, as he helped shape me to be the person I am today.”
White isn’t the only person who feels Bryant’s life has made an impact — countless heartbroken fans took to Twitter as they reflected on the 5-time NBA Champion who posthumously caused the #girldad trend. This trend, which has been circulating social media since the day of Bryant’s death, recognizes Kobe’s influence to other parents as a father of four girls. Tweets depicting photos of fathers from all around the world, and showcasing the pride they have in being a father to a girl, took over Twitter by storm.
Jen Byrne, a senior forward for the women’s basketball team, emphasized Kobe’s impact on giving women more respect in the game.
“Kobe has done so much for women’s basketball and has made such a difference in its importance and recognition, and I always appreciated that,” she said.
Bryant’s final tweet, in which he congratulated Lebron James on passing him on the all-time scorer’s list for the NBA, was published the day before the helicopter crash, which many have dubbed as an all-time reflection of his character.
For many, these types of tragedies put their lives in perspective. Chessie Jackson, the head coach of the women’s basketball team, stressed that while Bryant’s death is earth-shattering in the world of basketball, it holds meaning for people in all walks of life.
“This tragedy puts into perspective that basketball and being a part of a team is a true privilege, and one that we can’t take for granted,” she said.