KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kobe Bryant was one of five people who passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday morning. ESPN reported that one of Bryant's daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, was also on board.
Bryant played his entire career -- two decades -- with the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. When the news of his death broke, Tennesseans mourned Bryant and remembered his legacy.
The Lady Vols were playing against the LSU Tigers Sunday as the news spread. 10News sports reporter David Schiele described the team's reaction. Coach Kellie Harper said the team was "gut-wrenched."
Bryant was known for supporting women's basketball by attending games, spreading awareness and advocating for players. Lady Vol Rennia Davis said his work was important to her.
Hours after the news broke, reactions had spread past Twitter. The University of Tennessee's "the Rock" was painted with a tribute to Bryant: "Legends Never Die; R.I.P. KOBE."
Former Tennessee basketball player Admiral Schofield, who is now an NBA player, was among the first to publicly speak about Bryant's death.
Tennessee Men's Basketball Coach Rick Barnes said the team will be wearing purple shoe laces on Tuesday to honor Kobe and his legacy during their game against Texas A&M.
"He was without question the best high school player I've ever watched since I've been in coaching. In everything he did back then, he just took to a different level," Barnes said. "Obviously, having a chance to coach a guy like Kevin Durant and Kevin telling me how he made an effort to go spend time with him, because he wanted to know everything that he was doing and Kobe grew up loving Michael Jordan, and then here comes LeBron loving Kobe and now you have Kevin Durant right behind loving LeBron."
Another Tennessee basketball alumnus, Renaldo Woodridge, went on to join the Lakers for the 2013 NBA Summer League. Sharing a photo with Bryant, he said the player "impacted [his] life and the entire world in a rare way."
Former Tennessee Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw said she was praying for Bryant's family.
One person affected by the news was very close to home. 10News sports reporter Louis Fernandez grew up in Southern California, where his family loved Kobe Bryant. He shared one of his favorite memories of Bryant: playing basketball with his family right before watching a Lakers game.
People across the United States remembered the basketball legend's "Mamba Mentality" philosophy -- #RIPMAMBA, #MambaMentality, and #MambaForever were all trending on Twitter.
Voices in the sports reporting world shared one strong belief: Bryant changed the game forever.