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Local family remembers their hero, Kobe Bryant

Posted at 11:56 PM, Jan 27, 2020

Most of us watched Kobe Bryant's sensational basketball career from a far, his work ethic, perseverance, and will to win.

One local family got to experience first hand the type of person Kobe was on and off the hardwood.

The Thompson family's son, Bryson, was battling with severe epilepsy.

This led to their sons Brock and Bryson deciding to give back to a local nonprofit.

Back in July of 2018, KSBY spoke with the boys when they donated memorabilia of superstar athletes in return for helmets for fellow kids suffering from the disorder.

That's when Bryant heard what they were doing and gave them the surprise of a lifetime.

"'The View' heard their story and brought them out, and in the middle of the interview Whoopi Goldberg said that one of her friends had forgotten to send something," said Sarah Thompson, mother of Brock and Bryson.

For Brock and Bryson, meeting their favorite player was the moment of a lifetime.

"Very special, we felt like we were very special because not a lot of people get to meet Kobe," said Brock Thompson.

Their moment with Bryant didn't just end there.

"After the cameras were done rolling and nobody was around, we were just talking to him and talking to him about how Brock loved basketball, and he chose to be number 24 kind of after Kobe; and Kobe invited him to come down and worked with him."

Not in a summer camp, or a team practice, though. Kobe meant he wanted to work with Brock for an hour--one-on-one.

After an hour of learning first hand from his favorite player, Kobe told the Thompsons they could stay and watch his daughter Gianna's practice, who also passed away in the helicopter crash.

Despite meeting Bryant almost two years ago, Thompson says this past weekend they saw Kobe at a basketball tournament and to this day he honors their son Bryson.

"They were down there this weekend and saw Kobe on Saturday, and one of the coaches that wore a 'fight like Bryson' wristband would always say that he would see Kobe when they were coaching against each other; and Kobe would kind of just lean up and Kobe would wear the 'fight like Bryson' wristband too," said Sarah Thompson.

Thompson said when her family found out the devastating news it felt like a gut punch. Her and her husband were in disbelief, and her sons were holding back tears all day.

But their once in a lifetime experience with the black mamba showed that Kobe was more than just a basketball player, he was a loving father and willing coach.