ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sunday morning’s news that NBA Legend and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident shocked the world. Bryant, along with eight other people including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed. Albuquerque High graduate, former Lobo basketball legend and former 11-year NBA player, Kenny Thomas was just as shocked as the rest of us.
“Not only was he great on the court, but he was starting his second life right now, life after basketball. He was doing so much in the community, he is still connected to the NBA, helping NBA players. His daughter that passed away in the crash with him, he was teaching her. My heart and prayers go on to Vanessa Bryant though. I could not even imagine what she is going through right now,” said Kenny Thomas.
Thomas played against Kobe Bryant in the NBA and reminisced about the battles they had and how Bryant even said that he liked the way he played.
“He was just a tremendous competitor at every given moment, especially when I was playing against him. The impact that he had on the game of basketball was just unreal, especially coming into the NBA and doing what he did from such a young age. It just doesn’t seem real, for him being 41 and here I am about to turn 43. He was just so young and the fact that Magic Johnson was my mentor and was close to Kobe, I can only imagine what he’s going through right now,” said Thomas.
Kobe was a five-time NBA Champion, a two-time finals MVP, and an 18-time NBA All-Star. Bryant transcended the sport of basketball, as he was influential in so many ways.
“Just the impact he had on the game, it just wasn’t about basketball. It was about being competitive, but at the same time, he was being competitive in life. Setting himself up for what he was about to do with his life outside of basketball. It’s just unreal, it’s going to take me a minute to really take this one in,” said Thomas.