SAN DIEGO — Local fans are reeling after news broke Sunday about the death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning. None of the nine passengers on board survived, authorities said.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was on board with her father at the time of the crash.
“I’m kind of trembling right now actually, just talking about it,” local fan Rigel Kuhn said. “I broke into tears earlier today.”
Kuhn said he first heard the news from a coworker when he arrived at his job at Dirty Bird’s, a sports bar in Liberty Station.
“I didn’t think I would cry this hard for a celebrity,” Kuhn said. “When Michael Jackson died, I was really really sad — but this hit me different. I’m a huge basketball fan. I watch basketball every day, I play fantasy basketball with my friends. We always talk about basketball.”
The mood was somber at some tables inside the restaurant as sports fans processed the loss.
“It’s just really heartbreaking all around,” David Camacho told FOX 5 as he ate lunch with his family. “Any sports fan growing up in the ’90s and 2000s … he did a lot for the game and it’s just really hard to put into words how much he’s going to be missed.”
Basketball players at The Hoop House in El Cajon were also absorbing the news Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t think it was real, but then I go on Instagram and I see everyone posting about it on TMZ, Sports Center and all this stuff,” Justin Razooki said.
Razooki stood in front of a mural of Bryant, which is displayed prominently at The Hoop House. He mentioned he was even wearing Kobe Bryant shoes. “Who he was as a person really inspired me,” Razooki said. “His mentality through everything just helped a lot of people.”
Many fans told FOX 5 they were just trying to pull themselves together to get through the day.
“I’m probably gonna be like this for weeks,” Kuhn said. “It’s probably gonna be everywhere for months.”