Youth basketball teams take a moment to pray after learning of Kobe Bryant's death

Players and coaches at a youth basketball tournament at Kobe Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy stopped playing to drop to a knee and pray after learning of his death.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

A youth basketball tournament that was in full swing at Kobe Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy on Sunday came to a solemn and heartbreaking stop when news of the NBA legend's death in a helicopter crash reached the players, coaches, parents and fans.

Players and coaches dropped down to one knee in prayer as they processed the tragic loss of Bryant, 41, who named the facility in Thousand Oaks, California, after his nickname, "The Black Mamba."

Alexan Balekian of NBC affiliate KSEE in Fresno captured the scene of players and coaches bowing their heads as they remembered Bryant and the other victims of the crash.

"This photo taken this morning at #KobeBryant tournament in #calabasas as the kids received the news,'' he tweeted. "A youth team from Tenaya was playing in the tournament when they received the news and cancelled games. #heartbreaking."

We apologize, this video has expired.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among the nine people killed in the crash in Calabasas while they were en route to the youth tournament.

Three of those killed included Gianna's basketball teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli and one of her coaches, Christina Mauser.

The remainder of the tournament was canceled following the tragic news.

Bryant's love for basketball had been reinvigorated following his retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016 thanks to Gianna, the second-oldest of his four daughters.

Their bond over basketball led to him coaching her youth team. They shared a sweet moment together last month at a Brooklyn Nets game when he was seen showing her the finer points of the game as she gratefully absorbed his knowledge.

He said on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" in 2018 that he hoped Gianna would carry on his legacy on the court and go on to play in the WNBA.

More recently, Bryant spoke to retired NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson about how Gianna's love for the game rekindled his passion for basketball.

“Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that she’s into basketball, we watch every night," he said in an episode of the "All the Smoke" podcast released earlier this month. "We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes.

“It wasn’t me sitting there, you know, as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don’t like that. It was her, she was having such a good time."