'We lost a legend and it hurts': Kobe Bryant fans say NBA legend helped guide their own lives

LOS ANGELES, California (WPVI) -- Coroner's officials worked to recover victims' remains Monday from the hillside outside Los Angeles where a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others crashed in weather so foggy that local police departments had grounded their own choppers.

About 20 investigators were on the scene where everyone aboard was killed Sunday morning in a wreck that left debris scattered over an area the size of a football field.

The accident generated an outpouring of grief and shock around the world over the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.



"We lost a legend and it hurts. I don't know how to explain it, but I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Everybody feels this way," said Felicitias Harrison-Ramirez told Action News reporter Maggie Kent in Los Angeles.

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The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game's most popular players, an 18-time All-Star who helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships.

"Everyone wants the Gold Medal - which he had two -- but do you want to work to get that? It takes a lot of work and discipline to get to that certain level. That drive was impeccable," said Xavier Chavis.

It was the drive, the focus on putting in the hard work and defeating obstacles that mourners say helped guide their own lives.


"Drive that he gives you to be the best at whatever your profession is. I am hearing a lot of stories of people like, 'Yeah I'm not into sports but his mentality, the Mamba Mentality, is what made me a better writer," said Benjamin Ramirez.

Desiree Engel is a super-fan. She has followed Bryant's career all the way back to Lower Merion High School.

"This is the last superhero on this earth. This is real, this is such a tragic loss. That's why a million people are mourning here together," said Engel.

To her, what's most important about Bryant is the support he showed through her health battles.

"I will never forget those words you told me Kobe, 'Own the surgery and kick it's (expletive.) I'm about the three years seizure free. So, I want to say thank you for that. I would have never made it without the Mamba system, Mamba mentality forever," said Engle of Newport Beach.

A legacy that will be remembered, as fans from around the world are still in disbelief. The tremendous loss of a superstar, and his 13-year old daughter, Gigi.

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"You feel for Gigi the most. As fans of Kobe, you want to see his legacy continue. And as soon as I saw her playing basketball I said, oh she's going to be good," said Ramirez.

The seven others onboard are not being forgotten.

"We should be praying for all the parties involved, not just Kobe," said Casey Ngo at the Staples Center.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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