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Local basketball coaches and teams honor and remember Kobe Bryant

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 27, 2020

There is no denying Kobe Bryant was a household name.

"I am a big fan and so were all of my family members and it is a very sad day because he was an inspiration among many, many different people," said Jesus Pacheco, a Santa Maria resident.

Bryant was among nine people killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.

For many, Kobe Bryant embodied what it meant to be a team player on and off the court.

"Such a competitor, such a hard worker, got better every year, and as a coach and former player, I really admired that," said Dave Yamate, Santa Maria High School Head Boys Varsity Basketball Coach.

Among many things, Kobe will be remembered for his perseverance and determination, a legacy Santa Maria Youth Basketball League President Michael Thompson hopes will be passed down to younger generations.

"He leaves a legacy of never giving up. He was the guy who's back was up against the wall or the pressure is on and he would just perform," Thompson said.

Thompson said Kobe was one-of-a-kind and an athlete that has left a lasting impact on the basketball community.

Thompson saw Bryant operate one of his basketball camps in Santa Barbara and says he could tell Bryant truly cared.

"Most camps you go to, guys aren't there. They just lend their name to it, show up and say, 'See you later.' Kobe is there from the start to the finish. He was there interacting with the kids," Thompson said.

Kobe Bryant will be remembered and honored in various ways at practices and games in the coming days.

"We will definitely do something to honor him, whether it be get a patch or a number to put on all the kids' jerseys," Thompson said.

For some, this tragedy is more than just about basketball.

"I couldn't imagine losing my wife and my daughter in such a tragic accident and I think that even impacts you more than the basketball part. It kinda makes you take a step back and put life into perspective," Yamate said.