TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Fans everywhere are mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. Athletes in East Texas say he wasn’t just a basketball player, but a role-model to look up to.
Since he was one-year-old, Zaidyn Haggerty has been a fan of not just the Lakers, but a fan of Kobe.
Zaidyn, now 9-years-old says the legend that is Kobe, is someone he has always looked up to.
“He was such a great player, and the way he played was just amazing to me,” said Zaidyn
A basketball player himself, Zaidyn, had goals of being just like Kobe and finding out he had died made him realize just the impact he made.
“I felt very sad,” expressed Zaidyn.
Zaidyn’s love for the player comes from his mother, Fannishia.
Fannishia has been a longtime fan with her own love for the team stemming from her mother.
When news of Kobe’s death came across her son’s IPad, she didn’t believe it at first, until other news stations confirmed.
“Just disbelief, shock you know,” described Fannishia, “I think that he’s a great role model for boys to have. As goals, and to maybe accomplish some of the things that he’s accomplished in life.”
Gifted a Kobe Bryant shirt for Christmas, the day he died became the first day Zaidyn wore it, as he remembers major moments in the athlete’s life.
“When he made 60 points in his last game, I was happy, but I was also sad,” said Zaidyn.
The retirement of the amazing player is a time fans and players alike will always remember.
“To end his career scoring 60 points in a basketball game, just amazing. So as a basketball coach and someone who has coached a generation of athletes, who I’ve argued with about Kobe or Michael Jordan and now Kobe or Lebron James, he’s had a profound effect on me,” said Louis Wilson, UT Tyler Men’s Basketball Coach.
Wilson says Kobe’s impact will be felt for generations to come.
“I think regardless of where you grow up, he’s somebody who has had a major impact particularly on a younger generation of kids that grew up as their sports hero,” said Wilson.