Gaborone — The legendary American professional basketball player Kobe Bryant's death has shocked the local sports fraternity.
A helicopter crash on January 26 claimed the Los Angeles Lakers player who won five NBA championships during his career.
His death announcement saw social media being awash with messages of condolences to his family and wife, Vanessa.
Radio Botswana sport commentator Tiro Lepotokisi, who is an avid Basketball follower, said Bryant's death was a great loss to the basketball community.
He cited that Bryant influenced most youngsters, which saw a number of them joining the sport in numbers from 1996 when he started playing until his retirement in 2016.
"Kobe also owned a club, so a lot of guys who played basketball were influenced by him and Michael Jordan, so the basketball community across the world has lost a true legend" he said.
Lepotokisi said despite the fact that he had retired, he held fresh memories about him in the court, something he said would be the case among all basketball followers in the whole world.
"I personally had an opportunity to watch Kobe in the court live, playing against Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, so for me it is something very personal."
He said news of his death came when they were looking forward to discussing the Saturday announcement that LeBron James had passed Kobe on the number three of NBA's all-time scoring list.
"Now the focus has shifted from the surpass, to his death, it is so painful, but his spirit will continue to live on," he said.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among the nine people who perished in the helicopter crash.
Meanwhile, a press release from NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
It says for 20 seasons, Kobe showed them what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning.
It says he was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of the game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.
It says he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to compete to the very best of their ability.
The release says Bryant was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.
Source : BOPA