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Remembering Kobe Bryant
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Memorial for Kobe Bryant

ARDMORE, Pa. (WLVT) - Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday.

Mourners have gathered coast to coast, including at his former high school in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County. PBS39's Megan Frank visited the gymnasium named in his honor, where fans and friends have been gathering to grieve. Watch the PBS39 news report in the video player below.

Memorial visitors told PBS39 they're still in shock at the sudden death of one of the greatest players in NBA history.

''I didn’t think it was real at first,'' said Michael Briggs, a fan from South Philadelphia. ''It hurt really bad to find out that someone you grew up watching, someone that helped the community in more ways than one, and to find out that his daughter was with him, it hurts even more,'' said Briggs.

Briggs left a teddy bear at the memorial with a note that said:

''Rest in peace Kobe. Rest in peace Gianna.''

The Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania opened in 2010.
The Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania opened in 2010.
Michael Briggs of South Philadelphia left a teddy bear at the memorial at Lower Merion High School.
Michael Briggs of South Philadelphia left a teddy bear at the memorial at Lower Merion High School.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia and played basketball at Lower Merion from 1992-1996. From high school, he went right to the NBA and spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lower Merion School District spokesperson Amy Buckman says Bryant visited the school over the years and checked in with his former coach, Gregg Downer, who still coaches basketball at Lower Merion.

In a statement, the district expressed how much Bryant meant to the school, saying:

''Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School, where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA, has raised the profile of the high school and our District throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater, including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant Gymnasium and his support of our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.''
-Lower Merion School District

''People started to come here yesterday to bring their tributes and we thought it was appropriate to give them the opportunity to do that,'' said Buckman. ''This is a lot for our students and our coaches to process, so we’re working to support them too.''

Over his career, Bryant won five NBA championships, two gold medals at the Olympics and was an 18-time All-Star. On Saturday night, Lebron James surpassed him to become the third highest scorer in NBA history. Bryant congratulated James in the last tweet posted to his Twitter account.

Leroi Leviston of Paoli showed PBS39 his Kobe Bryant scrapbook. It includes two autographs from the LA Lakers legend.
Leroi Leviston of Paoli showed PBS39 his Kobe Bryant scrapbook. It includes two autographs from the LA Lakers legend.

''This is a kid that went to Lower Merion High School, then straight to the NBA! He had supreme confidence in himself and it made me feel confident in my life as well,'' said Leroi Leviston of Paoli.

Leviston brought a scrapbook to the memorial filled with newspaper clippings about Bryant and two autographs.

''I remember in ‘95 and ‘96 I was begging my older brother to help me get an autograph from this 16-year-old kid, because you could just tell he was different on the basketball court,'' said Leviston.

Bryant is survived by his wife and three daughters.

''You just don’t want to believe that the person you looked up to the most in the world is gone,'' said Leviston.

The crash is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. A preliminary report is expected to be issued over the next few days. An official ruling on the case could take more than a year.

PBS39 News Reports
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