ROCKLIN, Calif. (KTXL) -- Coach Chris Collins and his basketball team returned home Sunday after driving back from Los Angeles. But on Saturday, they were at Mamba Academy in Southern California where Collins said he had a chance encounter with Kobe Bryant.
Before returning to Rocklin they all stood in front of the academy to mourn Bryant’s death.
“You could just see the devastation on a lot of people. It was very quiet,” Collins told FOX40.
Collins said the team was participating in the Mamba Cup and were on their way to be in the championship when they received the devastating news.
“My brother, Josh Johnson – he is in the XFL – just signed with them and plays with the team in LA. He texted me and said, ‘Hey, I heard Kobe Bryant just passed away,’” Collins said.
Even more devastating is the loss of eight others including two coaches, members of their family and Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna who had dreams of following in her father’s footsteps.
“Gigi was just a really good basketball player. I just can’t imagine the mom’s feelings and the rest of the daughter’s,” said player Drew Gaydosh.
This is team outside the Mamba Academy after they received the news of Kobe’s death. Players say Kobe’s daughters were also playing in the same tournament. @FOX40 📸: Christopher Collins pic.twitter.com/Y2YBmX384Q
— Charmaine Nero (@CNeroTV) January 27, 2020
“I have a daughter just like her and the more details I found out, especially for a daughter like her who is big in the basketball community," said Collins
Now, Collins is remembering a chance encounter with Bryant at the Mamba Academy that he’ll never forget.
“He kind of turned and looked at me and he said, ‘Hey man, I heard you coaching earlier. You did a great job. You do good with your boys.’” said Collins.
Bryant’s legacy isn’t just about his five championships or the hunger he brought to every single game but the impact he had on players in the league and young players alike. Players who can now aspire to create the same legacy that Bryant now leaves behind.
“He’s still very relevant to them. That’s huge to me. That shows the mythical iconic status he had in the basketball community,” said Collins.