Kobe Bryant death: 1 year later, fans outside Staples Center reflect on Laker superstar's enduring legacy

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It may have been one year ago Tuesday that Kobe Bryant and eight others were killed in a helicopter crash, but many of the NBA superstar's legions of fans remember it like it was yesterday.

On Jan. 26, 2020, the news hit fans like a direct blow - Kobe Bryant was gone at the age of 41.

"I just checked out my phone and everything was just blowing up. And it was all about Kobe's death," recalled Gregorius Tjahaja, a fan from Seattle.

Jolene Irwin, a Los Angeles resident, said: "Kobe was a legend -- and a hero."

Vanessa Bryant shares heartfelt letter from close friend of daughter Gianna
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One year after the helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, Vanessa Bryant on Monday shared a personal letter she received from one of Gianna's best friends.


Distraught fans swarmed Staples Center -- a court which the Black Mamba lorded over for so many years.

This week, fans remembered why Bryant stood out.

"People still try to emulate his moves, his takeover spirit," said Kerry Baker, an employee of L.A.'s Urban Alchemy. "That drive he had, that determination that he showed and his commitment once he took it to another level."

Even more devastating was the news that Bryant had died along with his 13-year-old daughter en route to a basketball tournament. Seven other people died alongside the Bryants, including Gigi's coach, Christina Mauser.

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Tuesday will mark a year since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.


Her husband, Matt Mauser, has been grieving with their children and is finding a place to heal.

"It's a wound and it's going to take time to get that wound to the place where we can function again, but it's never going to go away," he said. "You're never going to be OK with losing your mom. You're never going to be OK with losing the love of your life."

Four weeks after news of Kobe's death, his widow, Vanessa, mourned publicly with those closest to her husband. How she handled Kobe's legacy made an impression on "Laker Nation" fans.

"I think Vanessa did an amazing job, adding a spotlight to mental health in that sense and what it's like to grieve," said Denise Jones, a LakersNation.com lifestyle reporter. "It's not always one feeling. It's different emotions. It's a different feeling every single day. So I think that what she's doing has echoed to the strong woman that she is -- for her girls, for her family that passed and for the entire Lakers community."
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