Penny Hardaway on Kobe Bryant: He ‘meant a lot to the world’

Penny Hardaway speaks on sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The sudden death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna has left athletes and fans shocked around the world.

NBA All-Star and University of Memphis Head Basketball Coach Penny Hardaway shared his thoughts and condolences Monday in the wake of Bryant’s death.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in Storrs, Conn. (Source: AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

“Kobe Bryant meant a lot to the world, to the basketball world, to all of his fans, to a ton of people who probably weren’t even basketball sports fans just fans period of his,” said Hardaway. “Just devastating news yesterday to hear about what happened to him, his daughter and the rest of the families. And being in a big fraternity in the NBA, man it’s just crushing just to know that happened."

Officials say the crash also took the lives of seven others on board.

According to the Associated Press, longtime Orange Coast College baseball coach 56-year-old John Altobelli was also killed in the helicopter crash. He died along with his wife, Keri and daughter Alyssa.

Alyssa and Gianna were on the same basketball team.

John Altobelli spent 27 seasons as baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. He coached future major leaguers including Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets.
John Altobelli spent 27 seasons as baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. He coached future major leaguers including Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets. (Source: Orange Coast College/CNN)

Monday, Penny recalled competing with Bryant saying he was a tough competitor and when he came to town there would always be a battle.

“You knew that when he was coming to town, there was going to be a battle," said Hardaway. "It’s certain guys that he just had on a list that he felt like he had to show that he could compete with or dominate or wanted to dominate or even be on that level. And I was one of those guys that I knew that when he came to town he wanted to show who he was.”

Bryant debuted in the NBA in the 1996-1997 season as a first-round pick for the LA Lakers at the age of 18. During his 20-year career, he won five championships, was an 18-time All-Star and scored 33,643 points.

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