ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) -- A moment of silence was offered up by the Lady Tigers of Roseville High School for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who gave them a gift designed to make all their moments on the court count even more.
Monday night was the varsity girls’ first time hitting the hardwood since their high school team and the entire sports world took the hit of learning Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven other people died as a helicopter crashed in Calabasas.
"I was devastated. I started crying in the movie theater. This can't … this can't be real because someone I look up to so much is now gone and I can never share the same conversations and same idea of basketball with him again," said Lolana "Lane" Madrid.
Madrid met Bryant and played against his daughter, Gianna, last summer as part of off-campus play in the Amateur Athletic Union system.
The 41-year-old father of four was flying Gianna, some of her AAU teammates and their parents to another tournament when their helicopter crashed into a hillside.
Madrid said she went up against fellow point guard Gianna on the court.
"She was a very great basketball player. I could tell she was gonna get so far in the game,” she told FOX40. “And for her to be taken away from us so soon is terrible, especially because both of them were making a big impact to the girls basketball community."
Madrid and Kobe Bryant maintained a social media friendship after he complimented her style of game last summer. She knew how much he cared about the game and reached out to him to help her team.
Just 39 days ago, a $5,000 check from the five-time NBA champion and his wife, Vanessa, showed up to replace dollars the Lady Tigers lost after poor air quality from wildfires canceled regular fundraisers.
"It literally made the difference between us having a really tight season to us being able to at least travel to Concord to play in a tournament. And we also reserved some of those funds for the following year," said varsity coach Allan Darte.
Madrid said thinking about what happened so soon after Kobe came through for the Tigers was overwhelming.
"He was such a great man,” she told FOX40. “He wasn't only an athlete, he was more. He was a very kind-hearted person."
“So just to have a legendary figure like that to substantiate what you're trying to teach, it's priceless," Darte said.