It’s been nearly 24 hours since Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash near Calabasas. While reports were trickling in on Sunday, Russell Wilson was suited up and ready to take the field for his seventh Pro Bowl.
But before Wilson and his NFC teammates could leave the locker room, they heard the tragic news. According to ESPN, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback gathered his teammates for a moment of prayer for the Bryant family.
Those prayers continued on Monday as Wilson paid tribute to Black Mamba in a post on social media.
“You were one of my greatest inspirations,” Wilson said. “You will forever be missed. RIP Kobe and Gianna. #MambaMentality”
Like Wilson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was “crushed” when he heard news of Bryant. He said he would cross paths with the NBA star when he was a coach at USC and frequently cited Kobe’s “Mamba Mentality” to his own players.
“He’s been such an iconic figure to us,” Carroll said in an interview with ESPN. “We’ve cited Kobe so many times because of who he is and because of the extraordinary nature of his make-up and all. When it hit our locker room our guys were crushed. We all were. We didn’t know what to do. Were we going to walk out on the field and play a football game? It didn’t feel like the right thing to do at the time. But we thought if we was going to have a say in it, he would want us to go and play.
“He’s been an irreplaceable figure. And we’ve cited him so many times. It’s a great, crushing loss.”
The Seahawks coach gave each of his players Kobe’s book titled “The Mamba Mentality,” last December.
In late December 2018, for Christmas, Pete Carroll gave each #Seahawks player Kobe Bryant’s book The Mamba Mentality. Players were reading it at their lockers before practices that week— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) January 26, 2020
As @gbellseattle mentioned, Pete Carroll gave each #Seahawks player Kobe Bryant's book, "The Mamba Mentality," in December 2018. Here's @TylerLockett discussing it with me in an interview below: pic.twitter.com/YqqM9xF8FU— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) January 26, 2020
Bryant retired from basketball following the 2016 season after 20 seasons and five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. The organization retired both of the jersey numbers he wore, his famed No. 8 and No. 2, in 2017.
Many other Seahawks and prominent figures in the sports world mourned the news. You can find their reactions here.