There have been pivotal moments in our lives where we sat, reflected, and remembered exactly where we were and how we felt as we watched history unfold.
When tragic news struck on Jan. 26, 2020 that basketball icon Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others had died in a helicopter crash, the sports world was stunned.
One year later, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is still mourning the loss of the all-time Los Angeles Lakers legend and five-time NBA champion.
“I see pictures of Kobe now and it’s just a downer,” Lillard told the Undefeated earlier this month. “You can’t believe that he’s actually gone, and time has gone so fast. I can’t believe it’s already a year, and I still struggle with the fact that it’s a real thing. It’s kind of like around the time when Tupac passed, and people, for a long time, were like, ‘That’s not real.’ People didn’t believe it. That’s how, when I see a picture of [Bryant], I’m like, ‘Man, this can’t be real. That didn’t happen to Kobe.”
Just five days after Bryant’s death, Lillard and his teammates paid tribute at Staples Center to the NBA superstar and the other eight victims involved in the crash. As fans from around the world flocked to Los Angeles for an emotional first game back since Kobe’s passing, Lillard honored the Lakers legend in the only way he knew possible.
He played hard in the face of adversity.
The Trail Blazer All-Star scored 47 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds while channeling his inner Mamba Mentality. He also knocked down 17 of his 30 shots and hit 7 of his 12 three-pointers as Portland beat Los Angeles 127-119.
On the one-year anniversary of Kobe’s tragic passing, Lillard still has a heavy heart.
“It’s going to be a sad day for a long time, or forever, for that matter," Lillard said. "It’s not something that I’m looking forward to being all over my timeline and all those things. So, it’s going to be a sad day.”