WASHINGTON — Roughly 40 fans of Kobe Bryant showed up near Capital One Arena on Tuesday to honor the NBA icon who was one of nine lives lost in a helicopter crash.
The Sunday afternoon crash that killed 41-year-old Bryant also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who in recent years, had shown great interest in the sport her father dominated for decades.
"I grew up on Kobe, he was everything to me," one man said at the vigil. "Kobe was one of the few who started in the old era, and also carried over to our era. I'm 25, and this is my greatest [basketball player] of all time."
Tears and sorrow could be felt around the group of people who had to move the vigil in front of the National Portrait Gallery, due to a Georgetown University basketball game held at Capital One Arena.
Along with mourners who talked about why they loved Bryant, many held candles and spoke of the icon's "Mamba" mentality, which was what many nicknamed the effort and concentrated approach he took to the game of basketball and things he aspired to be in his life.
"I would just like to thank Kobe for having my back as a fan, and being a stand-up guy," another man said in the crowd of tearful gatherers. He continued speaking on the greatness he saw in Kobe in the early 2000s, when he was just old enough to understand basketball.
For a lot of people who gathered downtown, it's still hard for them to process what happened to Kobe.
And as bodies have been recovered, and NTSB still investigates the horrific crash, it hasn't hit a generation of fans that grew up learning from Bryant's greatness.
Kobe's death hasn't only impacted fans from D.C., but professional players with roots in the D.C. area, as well.
Former DeMatha Catholic High School standout Quinn Cook, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, was visibly shaken in photos of him outside of the Staples Center on Sunday, holding a jersey and honoring Bryant.
Cook also retweeted a Bleacher Report tweet that showed him with countless Lakers jerseys that he and his father bounded over.