CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Millions across the world have spent the past few days mourning the loss of former NBA star Kobe Bryant and the eight others who passed away with him in Sunday's helicopter crash.
The Hampton Roads Warriors, an East Coast Basketball League team based out of Chesapeake, Virginia, took time out of Monday night's practice to pay tribute to Bryant.
For many, Bryant is someone they've looked up to since they were children and news of his death has greatly affected them.
"I was hoping, I was praying that something would come out and say it was a mistake, that it wasn't Kobe Bryant, it wasn't my role model, the person I always looked up to as a kid," Warriors guard and team captain Marcel Chesson said. "Unfortunately it was true and it really took a toll on me.
"My family noticed, my son, my daughter, they could tell something was bothering me... all the plans that I had that day kinda went down the drain and I couldn't do nothing, just sit there and think how, why?"
Bryant put together a historic 20-year NBA career. He was an 18-time All-Star, won five championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and two Olympic gold medals, and is fourth on the NBA all-time scoring list.
"He had that fire in him that not many people possess," Warriors guard and team captain Tremayne Gates said. "He just had that dog in him, always wanting to do more, always wanting to be better than the person in front of him no matter who it was."
As important as his impact on the court was, it was what Bryant did during his time away from the game that mattered most. He was extremely vocal in his support of women's hoops, served as a great role model and, most importantly, was a great family man.
Many of the athletes have children of their own and the devastating news cut even deeper once they found out Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the fatalities.
"It hit home. I was in the house with my girls in the back room playing [when I heard of Kobe's passing]," Gates said. "After I found out Gigi passed away too, I just called all my girls to the front room with me and I just held them.
"Everything he's done for the game, and what he was as a man on and off the court, as a father, he was a model, he was an icon and that meant everything to everybody."