Basketball programs to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant in today’s games

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In honor of Kobe Bryant, a National Basketball Association legend who died on Sunday in a helicopter crash, both the women’s and men’s varsity teams will stand at half court for 24 seconds of silence before their games versus Desert Oasis. The time is representative of his number during the later seasons of his career on the Los Angeles Lakers. The teams will also wear all black during their warm ups and create chants for the scheduled games.

“It took a little piece out of me, man,” head varsity men’s basketball coach Paul Blair said. “It just made me realize how precious life is. One moment you can be here, and the next moment you’re gone. And it’s happening to real life celebrities, people that would make a major impact in communities.”

Many Spring Valley players, including senior Chelsea Camara and junior Davion Briley, wrote tributes on their shoes, such as the Bryants’ numbers (24 and eight for Kobe, and two for his daughter Gianna, who was also killed in the crash). Some are even going as far as junior Jordyn Nelson, who changed his brace’s bands to yellow and purple.

“I’m really one of those coaches that let my players do what they feel that they got to do to express themselves,” Blair said. “I let them express themselves how they like to express themselves, and if they want to express themselves and show Kobe some gratitude and tribute, then so be it. I support them 100 percent”

Bryant and his daughter were in a helicopter going to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks to participate in a tournament Gianna was in. Despite the bad weather conditions, the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, okayed the flight. Seven people other than Bryant and his daughter died in the crash.

“It’s just saddening because they just died out of nowhere,” senior basketball player Missy May Grimarez Valdez said. “Like, it was just a regular day, nothing out of the ordinary. It just hit really hard.”

According to Camara, head women’s varsity coach Billy Hemberger instills the work ethic and messages that Kobe instituted to his team and his sports leadership classes. He had the opportunity to watch Bryant and said he will always remember him as a great mentor and leader.

“[The situation] is a good reminder that we need to appreciate what we have,” Hemberger said. “I think I do that on a daily basis, but you could always do it more. I think it’s important to have an impact in the world. I think seeing how every time people talk about him, they don’t talk about any of the negatives. Not to say he lived the perfect life by any means, but what he did for the world was make it a better place, and he was just getting started.”