Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, remembers Lakers great Kobe Bryant

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – People across the country and western Massachusetts continue to pay tribute to former NBA all-star Kobe Bryant, who died tragically at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash Sunday. 

Kobe Bryant will never get the chance to say his induction speech in Springfield, but he’s still being remembered in this city Monday night. It wasn’t just Lakers fans at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame paying tribute to the legend in Springfield and it wasn’t just basketball fans either.  

People from all different backgrounds came to remember the legendary NBA star. 

“On or off the court he’s inspired people to do different things in different ways and make them be better,” said Roy Hines of Springfield. 

On Sunday, the shocking news broke of the deadly helicopter crash that killed 9 including Bryant, a few hours later it was revealed that his 13-year-old Gianna was on the helicopter as well. 

Springfield resident Benjamin Castellano told 22News, “My kids in football my daughter wears 8 playing basketball. So, it’s tough, it’s tough as a parent that’s what really hurts.” 

The Hall of Fame quickly set up a memorial in the lobby the morning after his death. Fans are encouraged to stop by to pay their respects and leave flowers. 

“We felt like we owe it to him,” said Justin Colon of Holyoke. “We’ve been talking about him for 20 something years, you know he’s been a part of our life.” 

The NBA announced that Tuesdays Lakers-Clippers game has been postponed until a later date. The game was to be played at the Staples Center, the Lakers’ home court where Kobe re-defined the history of basketball for 20 years. 

“I think the players need time,” said Lovelle Thomas of South Hadley. “To grieve, get everything settled inside and not only the Lakers but all the other teams. He wasn’t just a Laker, he was basketball in general.” 

Everyone expects Bryant to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this August and it’s also expected to be a unanimous choice of the 24 voters, the same number he wore on the court. 

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