Heartland athletes commemorate Kobe Bryant

Heartland athletes commemorate Kobe Bryant

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - People around the world and right here in the Heartland are continuing to mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, and commemorate the basketball legend’s legacy.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were traveling by helicopter Sunday Jan. 26 to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy when the aircraft crashed killing all 9 people on board.

Basketball players and coaches at Southeast Missouri State University are still in shock from the tragic news.

Carrie Shephard, a senior on the Redhawk Women’s Basketball, starting playing the sport in 2nd grade and grew up idolizing Kobe.

“Love, love, love Kobe. He is the GOAT to me in every aspect of the game, a genius," Shephard said. “I looked on Twitter (Sunday) and instantly my heart just sank. Today the hurt is still there. It doesn’t seem real.”

Other fans and NBA players have shown an outpouring of love and support for Bryant’s parents, his wife Vanessa and his daughters.

Assistant Coach Keith Pickens, with Redhawks Men’s Basketball, has four kids, including three girls.

He said the tragic accident is a wake up to how short life can be.

“The most important thing is family. Being able to be there with my family every day is more important than any win or loss I’ll go through as a basketball coach or player,” Pickens said. “I hope everybody in the community and around the world take some time to realize the special people they have in their lives. How amazing it can be and how quickly it can go.”

Bryant won countless games and awards, but players like Shephard are focusing on his inspirational work ethic, or what he called the ‘Mamba Mentality.’

“To be that great you have to emulate that work ethic,” Shephard said. “To show and demonstrate his love for the women’s game, it’s amazing. Even his daughter Gigi, like he doesn’t need a son to take over his legacy. That says a lot about his mentality. He’s inspired women, men, boys, girls. Everybody known when you wad that paper up you’re saying ‘Kobe’ at the trash can. You’re not saying anybody else."

Pickens’ actually gave his four year old son the middle name of ‘Kobe’ and plans to call him that as another way to continue the great player’s legacy.

“He touched my life in many ways and I know he has touched guys in our locker room and he will continue to do that," Pickens said. “He will live forever. Everybody will remember Kobe Bryant. The greatness he has done and what he has left on this Earth.”

Utahna Hancock is a Licensed Professional Counselor with the Hancock Center for Individual and Family Therapy.

If you’re struggling to deal with the loss of Kobe Bryant she suggests sharing your thoughts and feelings with others.

“You don’t want to feel alone, you want to feel like other people are in it with you and that sense of community,” Hancock said. “It’s OK if this brings up past grief or grief that you’re still experiencing. Allow yourself to feel it, and allow moments of joy of remembering the good times. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to how you think it should take to get over something like this.”

Copyright 2020 KFVS. All rights reserved.