The death of Kobe Bryant has reverberated around the world of sports, and the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers weren’t immune to it as they prepare for the biggest game of their lives.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers star cornerback Richard Sherman spoke at length about Bryant’s legacy. Sherman, who grew up in Compton, is an avowed Lakers fan.
"It's unfortunate. It's really sad,” Sherman said of Bryant during Super Bowl Opening Night via NFL.com
“He was a friend of mine, he was a mentor. He meant a lot to this world and he made a positive impact. There's nothing that I can say to really quantify his impact on myself and on others. I just know how he would have wanted me to take this to react, especially in this moment, in this game. I was really sad yesterday, and I was sad this morning I was kind of down. I was in the dumps. And then I just thought about what he would tell me. He would tell me stop being a baby and man up and play it and do it in his honour and win this game for him. And that's what we're going to try to do.
“I'm going to go out there and try to play some dominating ball, just like he wanted. The 'Mamba Mentality' still lives on."
Prior to Opening Night, the NFL held a moment of silence for Bryant.
“He meant a lot to the city of L.A. He's a tremendous idol,” Sherman said.
“Like I said, there's not enough praise I can give him. There's not enough words in my vernacular, in my vocabulary, to give him the praise and the respect that he deserves. But he deserves every inch, every ounce of respect, every ounce of gratitude. He gave me a ton of inspiration and I'm sure he inspired millions and millions and trillions of other kids. There's no limit to the impact he's had on my city and cities around the world."
Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he never met Bryant but was influenced by his renowned competitive streak.
“The impact that he made in my life, it was huge. The way he was able to go about every single day, when I was a kid, and the work ethic and the intensity that he had to be great every single day,” Mahomes said. “Even to this day, I still watch videos on YouTube the day before games and just listen to him talk and how he puts everything in perspective of being great on and off the field with his kids, and his business ventures and then obviously his play. It's a tragic thing. Prayers to his family, but he made a huge impact in my life for sure.
"I think the biggest thing with Kobe was the mentality that he had. It's special, and it's something that I hope that I can show whenever I'm playing."
Bryant held a tremendous place in the sporting landscape and though the Super Bowl is just days away, his sudden death will be felt across all sports for the foreseeable future.
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