OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The sudden passing of Kobe Bryant is hitting a lot of folks hard.
"He's such a hero to so many players that were out there nowadays and so many kids looked up to him, even adults, you know, from a standpoint of a basketball player," said LJ Goolsby, program director and head coach of KC Run GMC.
In his role, Goolsby has trained several high-profile student athletes.
"There are guys in college right now that are wearing number 24 because they looked up to Kobe, a couple of our former players I know just off the top of my head — Mitch Ballock and Jeremiah Robinson, one is playing at Villanova, one is at Creighton, both of those guys were huge Kobe fans," Goolsby said.
Some of his young players sought to emulate Kobe's competitive spirit.
"It's a mindset with Kobe, he talked about it all the time just being focused in the moment, want to out work whoever he was going to go up against on a consistent basis and you know, he went out on the court and he did that night-in and night-out," Goolsby said.
Scooter Christensen with the Harlem Globetrotters met Kobe at an NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
"Off the court man, he was, in my eyes, the closest thing to Michael Jordan, you know? And the way that he inspired everybody just to be better... not only in basketball, just in all facets of your life," Christensen told 41 Action News.
In his lifetime Kobe championed giving back to the community just like Christensen did Monday at the Ronald McDonald house.
"The Globetrotters is always about putting smiles on other faces," Christensen said. "The best gift that we that we feel that we always can give to our fans."
"Just overall for Kobe, he was doing so many things on the girls’ side of basketball, now, since he's been retired that was really starting to take off and he's going to be sorely missed," Goolsby said.
Some institutions around the metro are paying tribute to Kobe. Sunday night, the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence was lit in purple and gold in his honor.