MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The global basketball community and the Miami Heat are devastated by Sunday’s tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
South Florida basketball fans packed the American Airlines Arena Monday night, where the Lakers legend was remembered.READ MORE: Collins Park Garage In Miami Beach Achieves Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design Gold Certification
The Heat house took a long pause of silence in honor of Bryant.
The expressions made it clear that Heat nation shared the sadness of sports fans worldwide. A pre-game video tribute reinforced what the NBA had lost.
“This has been a horrible 24 hours,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra ahead of the game.
Spoelstra recalled the energy Kobe brought to Miami every time his Lakers came to town.READ MORE: Miami-Dade School Employee Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Teen
“As one of the fiercest competitors you could ever come across, there was something about our games with LA, they just felt electric,” he said.
The news of his death zapped the spirits of those who knew him best, especially when they learned his 13-year-old daughter Gianna perished with him in the helicopter crash that claimed seven other lives.
Heat guard Dion Waiters grew up idolizing Bryant in Philadelphia. He was among many NBA players mentored by Bryant.
“This is just sad. As a father, I have two daughters, and you know that love is unconditional. She was always on his hip. She wanted to be just like him,” he said. “That stuff always hits me. It kept hitting me last night. I had to get out of the house.”
At halftime, the Heat showed a clip of the short film for which Bryant just won an Oscar. It captured his sense of joy and peace. It was something even Heat fans said they’ll always remember.MORE NEWS: Florida's Fallen Firefighters Honored At 'Ringing Of The Bell' Ceremony
“It’s heartwarming. It’s so sad to see him go like this, especially when he means so much to not just basketball but everybody,” the Heat fan said.