Florida A&M University’s men’s basketball players are mourning the shocking and unexpected death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was killed Sunday, Jan. 26, when the helicopter he was in crashed in northern Los Angeles. Also killed were his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven other people.
Born Aug. 23, 1978, Bryant, was one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history. Throughout his 20-season professional career he played only for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Basketball players all over the world are devastated by the sudden death of Bryant.
“I thought people were just messing around. I didn’t want to believe it. I found out it was true and I was heartbroken,” FAMU basketball player Kamron Reaves said.
Bryant was drafted straight out of high school. During his time as a shooting guard he averaged 25 points per game, and scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
He had a handful of nicknames but the one he seemed to prefer was Black Mamba.
“When I first heard about his passing I was actually on the bus headed to a game. I was just confused and didn’t want to believe it. But after seeing all the tweets confirming it I was speechless,” Bryce Moragne, another member of the Rattlers team, said.
Off to a rocky start back in November, the FAMU men have a record of 7-13 and are in fifth place in the MEAC.
Even players who didn’t regard Bryant as a good person looked up to him as a one-of-a-kind talent and tried to emulate his passion for the game.
Players said that for him to die at such an early age was an eye opener for them to cherish their loved ones, and the moments on the court while playing the game they love.
Reaves said he was fortunate to meet Bryant and got some great advice about basketball. That advice will go with him throughout his matriculation in the sport.
However, despite the rough start to the season Moragne Is confident that the shock and devastation of the loss will not impact the team in a negative way. He believes it will push them to “leave it all on the court,” because you never know when it could be your last time playing the game.
FAMU basketball is back in action Saturday when it hosts Howard University in a doubleheader featuring the women’s teams at 2 p.m. followed by the men’s game.