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Tampa Bay area basketball fans heartbroken after hearing of Kobe Bryant's death

Posted at 11:34 PM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 05:36:50-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Even in Florida, thousands of miles from Los Angeles, the heartbreak was felt following the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing.

Whether a fan of the L.A. Lakers or not, a legend like Kobe Bryant had support from across the nation.

“Who’s not a Kobe fan? Who doesn’t throw a paper ball into a trash can from across the room and yell Kobe, right,” said Torend Ebner, lifelong Lakers fan.

It doesn’t take a Lakers fan to recognize the huge loss of a player like Bryant.

“I’m watching the games today and it’s like, everyone’s paying tributes to him,” said Ethan Basile, a Lakers fan.

MORE: Helicopter crash claims the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others

But Lakers fans are especially devastated by the tragic news of his passing.

“Growing up he’s iconic, he’s my favorite player, you know I literally just got off the phone with a friend and he broke the news to me. Tragic,” said Michael Turner, former Washington Generals player and Kobe Bryant fan.

Tears wrapped up the end of a Kobe era during his last game in 2016, but Sunday, a greater heartbreak hit the nation.

“I was honestly just shocked, it’s crazy, life’s never guaranteed and I was really just devastated, the whole basketball community is devastated,” said Basile.

One of the best basketball players of all time. Bryant won five NBA championships with the Lakers, earned Olympic gold with team USA, and he even won an Oscar!

“Pretty much Jordan in a new era,” said Turner.

But these Kobe fans are only proving legends never really die.

“Everybody knows who he is. It’s like if Michael Jordan passed away. Kobe and Michael, it’s still gonna be the same debate that’s gonna go on for the next 20 years,” said Ebner.

Even Tampa stars like Titus O’Neil honored Bryant on social media.