Fresno basketball coaches react to news of Kobe Bryant’s death

Kobe Bryant

In this Dec. 1, 2015 file photo Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant smiles as he jogs to the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. The Retired NBA superstar has died in helicopter crash in Southern California, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

FRESNO, Calif. – The basketball world received shocking news on Sunday morning when it was confirmed that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in southern California.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and eight others were killed.

Kobe Bryant is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history. He is also a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time NBA All-Star.

“Kobe was one of the toughest competitors ever to play the game,” said Clovis West boys basketball coach Vance Walberg in a text message to Sports Central.

Walberg, who spent several years in the NBA as an assistant coach, continued, “I was fortunate enough to see that firsthand nine years ago when the Lakers beat us, when I was with the Nuggets, in six games.”

Added Clovis West girls basketball coach Craig Campbell, also via text message, “Many don’t know the incredible initiative Kobe took to elevate and grow the women’s game…I personally had the pleasure of spending time with him working his camp, as well as at a coaching clinic two years ago where I got to sit down one-on-one with him. His competitive fire and leadership qualities are immensely contagious.”

Late Sunday night, Fresno State head men’s basketball coach Justin Hutson tweeted his thoughts on Kobe Bryant:

Kobe Bryant did visit Fresno a few times during his Lakers career, including during his rookie season in 1996. He was just 41 years old at the time of his death.

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