Kobe Bryant passes away at the age of 41

Kobe Bryant: Ohio Bobcat athletes, coaches and students react to Bryant’s tragic passing

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ATHENS, OH — Kobe Bryant was a global icon. A basketball ambassador. And a player that every athlete aspired to be.

“Growing up, (Kobe) was always my idol,” Ohio women’s basketball guard Erica Johnson said. “So just sad about that and hearing that his daughter — finding out an hour later that his daughter was in the plane crash — that was just devastating. She was so young so, that kind of had an impact on every athlete — basketball or not.”

“Just tragic,” Ohio men’s head coach Jeff Boals said. “You had nine people who lost their lives and I think as a father it’s tough when you have a 13-year-old and you have to put yourself in that situation. Our guys were distraught about it. It’s not a national deal, it’s a global one. He impacted so many people.”

“I feel like a lot of people back at home know how I feel about Kobe Bryant,” Ohio men’s basketball guard Jordan Dartis said. “When i was young, my dad would always try to develop that mamba mentality — the killer instinct.”

Kobe’s resume stacks up with some of the all-time greats. Five NBA titles. Two NBA Finals MVP awards. And one regular season MVP award.

But everyone will always wonder “what if” when it came to Kobe’s life after basketball. Kobe was a huge advocate of the WNBA and women’s basketball as a whole. His daughter Gianna was determined to follow in his footsteps.

“Not a lot of people pay attention to women’s basketball, so for him to have this big impact and be this biggest leader that everyone looks up to you and that he still gives attention to that area and knowing that his daughter would’ve possibly played in the WNBA that’s just amazing it’s a very sad situation,” Johnson said.

“I was excited to see where he was going post basketball,” Boals said. “He was so involved with his daughter and the women’s game. His passion to make people better and to help out — just a tragic, tragic, tragic loss.”

Bryant died at the age of 41 and his daughter Gianna just 13.