Paralympic community pay tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant
Para athletes, figures and those around the Movement react on social media on the tragic death of Bryant27 Jan 2020
The world of sports hit pause following the sudden and tragic death of two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant on Sunday (26 January).
Paralympians from around the world poured in emotional tributes on social media as soon as the news broke that sporting great Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in California with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna among nine reported victims.
Bryant, who elevated the game of basketball with his artistic scoring ability (fourth all-time in the NBA), had become an inspiration throughout the sports community across the globe.
Bryant joined forces with Rio 2016 wheelchair basketball champion Megan Blunk to produce a 'Heroes of Sport' campaign video by Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), an organisation that supports people with physical challenges lead active and healthy lifestyles. During the shoot, he also spent time with US Paralympian Scout Bassett and CAF youth grant recipient Luzi Castillo.
Blunk, who is on the US women’s wheelchair basketball national team, opened up about the news on Instagram:
“I have been trying to write something that could possibly do any of this justice. That could possibly put any of it into words that make sense. I have been trying to wrap my mind around the depth of the impact that @kobebryant made on this earth & how much bigger that impact has just become.”
The CA Foundation commemorated Bryant for being part of the campaign and their mission:
Three-time Paralympic snowboard medallist Amy Purdy recalled when Bryant approached her and her husband for a photo.
“He spent at least 15 minutes talking with my husband and I. He was the most kind, humble, genuine person. I can’t imagine what his family & loved ones are dealing with.”
Australian wheelchair tennis player Dylan Alcott, who is gearing up to defend his Australian Open quad singles title this week, shared a memory when Bryant visited Australia last year for “The Mamba Mentality Experience.”
Bryant was nicknamed the Black Mamba, or Mamba, to describe his deadly agility and aggressiveness in the sport. His craft and competitive desire spilled outside the basketball world, especially after winning five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired after 20 seasons in 2016.
Brazil's most decorated Paralympian Daniel Dias is an avid basketball fan and ambassador for Brazil's "NBA House 2019." The 14-time Paralympic swimming champion tweeted his sadness: