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Kobe Bryant fans gather at Lower Merion High School for touching tributes

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Fans of basketball legend Kobe Bryant gathered at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore on Sunday afternoon, in the hours after his tragic death, to pay their respects to the Philly-area native.

Tributes included a pair of Bryant's jerseys — one from Lower Merion and one from his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers — along with flowers, candles, and dedicated basketballs featuring messages of love and support.

Here's a look at the scene at the school:

Bryant, who attended Lower Merion from 1992 to 1996, took the Philly basketball scene by storm during his four seasons with the Aces, leading the team to a state championship and earning Naismith High School Player of the Year honors during his senior year.

The school officially named its gymnasium after Bryant with a special dedication ceremony in 2010, and Bryant donated more than $400,000 to the school district, at the time the largest donation in school district history. Images of Bryant adorn the inside of the gymnasium.

The Lower Merion School District issued a statement Sunday about Bryant's passing:

The Lower Merion School District community is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of one our most illustrious alumni, Kobe Bryant.

Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School, where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA, has raised the profile of the high school and our District throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater, including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant Gymnasium and his support of our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

 

Gregg Downer coached Mr. Bryant from 1992 to 1996. Mr. Bryant led the team to the 1996 State Championship. Downer said that he is completely shocked and devastated by this news adding, “Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat.”

The entire Lower Merion School District community sends its deepest condolences to Mr. Bryant’s family. Our basketball teams will no doubt pay tribute to Mr. Bryant as this season continues, but at this time, as a District, we will concentrate on supporting those in our community – including Coach Downer and English teacher Jeanne Mastriano – whom Mr. Bryant credited for sparking his love of writing.

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