The wheelchair basketball community are mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant, an NBA and USA Basketball legend and a global icon of the sport of basketball, who embodied and shared his love for the game of basketball across the world.
Emotional tributes from the world of wheelchair basketball have poured in over the past 48 hours following the news that sporting great Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in California with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna among nine reported victims on Sunday (26 January)
Most recently a global ambassador for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China, Bryant was an Olympic gold medallist at both London 2012 and Beijing 2008, a FIBA Americas Championship winner in 2007 and five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers.
IWBF’s President Ulf Mehrens said:
“The news that Kobe Bryant has passed away, is not a message that is understandable for people who love our game. Kobe has influenced a generation of players. I recently saw him in China, where he was the FIBA World Cup ambassador as he continued to inspire and advocate the sport. We all will miss him dearly and our thoughts are with his loved ones at this very difficult time.”
His love for the game of basketball transitioned across all formats including wheelchair basketball, he followed closely as the the US women’s team won the Under-25 World Championships last May, congratulating them on their achievement.
He also teamed up with USA’s Gold medallist 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.
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I have been trying to write something that could possibly do any of this justice. That could possibly put any of any of it into words that make sense. I have been trying to wrap my mind around the the depth of the impact that @kobebryant made on this earth & how much bigger that impact has just become. What stayed with me the most from meeting him that day was the way in which he radiated confidence. I could feel his strength from across the court. & every word he spoke had power to it. To me, @kobebryant was a guardian angel in my life…he came into my life for only a day but he left with me a strength that will be with me forever. My heart goes out to anyone whose lives he has touched…but especially to his close family. I can only imagine what you must be going through. ❤️ R.I.P @kobebryant , GiGi, & to the three other lives that were lost today. Your love & strength will continue to live through so many…& your impact on this world has only just begun.
Bryant’s has been an inspiration to wheelchair basketball athletes all over the world.
Canada’s David Eng, who won his second Paralympic Gold medal in London 2012 at the same time Bryant won his second Olympic Gold, said:
“I am lost in words. I am still shocked after a day of hearing this sad news. Even though I didn’t know Kobe Bryant personally I feel like he has been a part of my family my whole basketball career. We are roughly the same age and he has inspired and taught me so much. The memories of him winning his first 3 rings with Shaq was awesome then how he fought all the naysayers and won 2 more on his own. I even named my Husky after him. When I went through my surgery a few months before Rio 2016, he gave me strength seeing and watching him go through his achilles tear rehab. His work ethic inspired mine. I felt at a loss when he retired at the moment but then he kept inspiring me with his retirement transition as I am approaching mine. He also inspired me as I saw him being an awesome father as I am building my own family. I feel like he still keeps showing me the way. He has showed me how to live a life of excellence and I will always be in debt to him for that.
“Now the last lesson he is teaching me, and I wish it wasn’t this way, is how life is precious. That to love and be patient with my loved ones because we never know when the show is really over. Thanks for everything Kobe. May God have mercy on your soul. Love you always and will pass on your life lessons. To my son Malek and to my daughter when she is born in May. Kobe lives forever.”
World Champion Great Britain’s Simon Brown: “This is the Kobe I will remember. That pure heart and determination, refusing to lose. He wasnt the perfect leader but he dragged teams to success whether they deserved it or not. A man who craved victory, a man so cold and focused on his targets he didnt flinch at a ball thrown in his face, a man so proud he shot his free throws before leaving the game after a career ending injury. I don’t know how many times I went to bed at 6 or 7 in the morning because I was too pumped up to sleep after watching him play. Grieving for a person you never even got to see in person is pretty weird, but damn my heart hurts today. Thank you Mamba”
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This is the Kobe I will remember. That pure heart and determination, refusing to lose. He wasnt the perfect leader but he dragged teams to success whether they deserved it or not. A man who craved victory, a man so cold and focused on his targets he didnt flinch at a ball thrown in his face, a man so proud he shot his free throws before leaving the game after a career ending injury. I don’t know how many times I went to bed at 6 or 7 in the morning because I was too pumped up to sleep after watching him play. Grieving for a person you never even got to see in person is pretty weird, but damn my heart hurts today. Thank you Mamba A post shared by Simon Brown (@thesimonbrown5) on
Australia’s Annabelle Lindsay:
“From the age of 8, Kobe has huge impact on me both on and off the court. I’ve always tried to approach my basketball with Kobe’s iconic ‘Mamba mentality.’
“On the court, this meant playing with passion, fearlessness and confidence. Off the court, this meant consistently trying to make self-improvements and striving to reach my highest potential — in both basketball and life.
“Kobe also taught me that as athletes, it is important that we use our platform to have a positive impact on our communities. I am forever grateful for the impact Kobe had on my life and the lives of so many other athletes like me. Though gone, his legacy and impact will never be forgotten.”
USA’s Jake Williams:
“Some of the most unexpected news I’ve ever heard. Growing up watching Kobe was one of the first basketball superstars that I really remember watching. Thank you, Kobe, for all the memories that you game me from the 4 titles that I watched to the 81-point game, to the ’01 Lakers one of the best teams I’ve ever watched. Although I wasn’t always your biggest fan the way you played and competed and what you did for the game of basketball is unforgettable. The basketball universe and I is truly shook.”
Israel’s Allon Dor-Onn:
“Kobe is gone. To be honest, Kobe was never my favourite player. He was the one I was so scared my favourite players will have to face! The most lethal player who played the game I love so much. Always focused. Sharp as a blade. Concentrated in his goal of winning, no matter how.
“Thank you, Kobe, for teaching me about commitment. About trusting the path and process. For showing me your desire to the game. For aspiring to be the best you can possibly be. Rest in peace”
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קובי כבר לא עוד. גילוי נאות- קובי לא היה השחקן האהוב עלי. להיפך, הוא היה השחקן שהכי חששתי שהקבוצות שאני אוהד יפגשו. השחקן הקטלני ביותר ששיחק את המשחק שאני כל כך אוהב. תמיד מרוכז. חד כתער. ממוקד מטרה שהיא לנצח. בכל דרך. תודה לך קובי שלימדת אותי על מחוייבות. לדרך. לתשוקה. ללהיות הכי טוב שאתה יכול במה שאתה בוחר לעשות (הציטוט בתמונה השנייה). יהי זכרו ברוך. #rip #kobe #kobebryant #legend #nba #goat A post shared by Allon Dor-onn | Life. Inspired (@allon_doronn_11) on
Great Britain’s Helen Freeman:
“Kobe was a symbol of excellence and he was expressed himself in such a way that everyone who followed him also wanted to be better, more excellent in whatever their chosen field. He understood his legacy and was generous enough to give back through multiple avenues. He inspired many in the Wheelchair Basketball world and my thoughts are with his family.”
Italy’s Simone De Maggi:
“I hoped until the end that it was fake news… it’s like a member of my family flew away… it’s amazing what sport can do and how people can bring people closer. I’ll forever stay that kid with rolled socks, garbage bin in the corner 5 seconds to play. Ball in my hands. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… I will love you forever, Kobe.”
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Ho sperato fino alla fine che fosse una notizia falsa… è come se fosse volato via un membro della mia famiglia … È incredibile cosa riesca a fare lo sport e come possa avvicinare le persone. “rimarrò per sempre quel bambino con i calzini arrotolati, bidone della spazzatura nell’angolo 5 secondi da giocare. Palla tra le mie mani. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Ti amerò per sempre, Kobe”. You will never die #legend #kobebryant #forever #8 #24 #bryantfamily #gigi A post shared by Simone De Maggi (@mrgiames) on
Our heartfelt condolences go out to their friends and family and to those of the others lost. Rest in peace.
Image courtesy of FIBA Media.