Boston mourns and pays tribute to late NBA legend Kobe Bryant

BOSTON — On Sunday morning, the world lost one of it’s most esteemed athletes.

Kobe Bryant, 41, an 18-time NBA All-Star, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, around 10 a.m., along with his daughter, Gianna Bryant, 13. John Altobelli, former coach of the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa were also killed in the crash.

In total, nine people died.

Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy, a youth sports academy Kobe Bryant launched in 2018. They were flying from Orange County to Thousands Oaks to attend a game.

News of Bryant’s death and the helicopter crash put a somber feel over Boston High School’s basketball invitational in Dorchester Sunday night. They paused for a moment of silence before the games.

“You can tell the players, they’re physically, their faces dropped, their disposition dropped,” said Khari Roulhac, coordinator of the event.

Many of these young athletes watched Bryant play throughout their entire lives and were excited to watch him in his future endeavours.

“I wanted Kobe Bryant to grow old and be one of the greats and mentor young basketball players such as ourselves,” said Myles Avalon, a BHS team captain.

Bryant proved to young men and women across the world that you can do anything -- and just because you’re great at one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t excel in other areas.

Holding five NBA titles with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, and an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” Bryant was also a loving husband and father of four daughters.

“This is just devastating,” said Harold Miller, who said he played against Bryant in AAU basketball.

“I looked at him as someone younger back then, but then I started really admiring him and really just respecting the effort and hard work he put forth toward the game.

“It was amazing to see how hard he worked because the Celtics beat them that first time and he just continued to be relentless," Miller said. "If there is anything we could learn through him and how hard it worked -- I mean I don’t think, it may sound cliche, but I’m not sure if there was any other NBA player who worked harder than Kobe Bryant.”

At the Celtics’ game Sunday night at New Orleans, and across the NBA, arenas held a moment of silence for Bryant and teams took a 24-second violation at the start of their games in honor of him. Fans paid tribute to him at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and outside of TD Garden in Boston, which lit up Laker purple.

After their loss, Celtics players reacted to the tragic news.

Celtics guard Kemba Walker said, “Kobe is a guy who’s impacted so many lives and so many basketball players. To hear the news about him and his daughter today, it’s tough."

Forward Jaylen Brown echoed, saying, “I woke up from a nap today and I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I was at, what time it was and things like that because that was the last thing you wanted to hear.”

Forward Gordon Hayward said, “That’s why every time you leave you want to say goodbye. It’s tough. It’s really tough.”

Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, scoring 33,643 points, retiring after the 2015-16 season. His last game at the Garden was in December 2015. He came out to cheers of fans chanting his name, and after the Lakers upset the Celtics, fans once again cheered his name as he left the court.

One of the Celtics’ biggest rivals, Bryant was still well-respected by Boston. The organization sent numerous tweets honoring the legend after news broke:

Athletes from the city of champions as well as local prominent figures expressed their condolences to the Bryant family and honored the late player on social media.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who had just spent the offseason training with Bryant and was mentored by him, was emotionally devastated and on Instagram wrote:

Former Celtics great Bill Russell tweeted a message to the Bryant family expressing his and his wife Jeannine’s condolences for their loss.

Former Celtics star Paul Pierce tweeted twice, saying, “this is not real right now,” and saying he named his son after him.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley also took to Twitter to share their messages of love for the family and respect for Bryant. Pressley tweeted a heart-warming photo of Bryant with his daughter, Gianna.