Basketball fans around the world are mourning the sudden loss of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant after he, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday.
For Sheldon Serjue, director of Champs Basketball Camp in Lachine — a basketball program that visits schools across the province — the player’s death hit home, as he says Bryant was one of the main inspirations he and his brother had to start the camp.
Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down in foggy conditions on Sunday, investigators said. It plunged into a steep hillside at about 9:45 a.m. with an impact that scattered debris over an area the size of a football field, killing all aboard.
The helicopter carrying the nine people was on its way to a girls’ basketball game.
Serjue told Global News that he believes Bryant would be proud of the program he is running.
Michael White, principal of Pierre Elliot Trudeau Elementary school, which hosted Champs on Monday, said it was nice to have the students play the sport in honour of the late player who spent his entire 20-season career in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“As a father, as a sports fan, it hits hard,” he said.
“But it’s fitting that that we are having our basketball program run today. It’s almost a tribute to him,” White added.
Bryant, who was 41, won five NBA championships and was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
His death prompted an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world. Thousands of fans, many wearing Bryant jerseys and chanting his name, gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Lakers and site of Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where Bryant was honored.
Bryant is survived by his three other daughters and his wife.
— With files from Global News’ Josh K. Elliot and The Associate Press’ Stefanie Dazio