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:
❤️❤️— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 26, 2020
Fans have gathered outside of Lower Merion High School, where Kobe Bryant played high school basketball to honor his memory on this devastating day. pic.twitter.com/pR8jIJGCfT
The tribute continues as fans show up to Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion to honor the legacy of the star. pic.twitter.com/LJudVLwoiX— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 26, 2020
A crowd outside Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion Highschool. Community members have laid down jerseys and flowers memorializing Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/GioIabZsEI— Luke Malanga (@malanga_luke) January 26, 2020
tributes outside the entrance of the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion pic.twitter.com/b1GNbQyQR3— Daniel Gallen (@danieljtgallen) January 26, 2020
VIDEO: decenas de personas se dan cita en las afueras de Bryant Gymnasium del alma mater de Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion High School en #Philadelphia— Charlene Santiago (@Charlene_TV) January 26, 2020
Un ambiente sombrío, indudablemente la comunidad escolar está de luto. @univision65phil pic.twitter.com/85W4br99re
R.I.P. Kobe Bean Bryant. The memorial earlier today at Lower Merion High School outside the doors of The Bryant Gymnasium. pic.twitter.com/R63ngwsodz— Urban Radio Nation - Radio, Media, Sports, Culture (@UrbnRadioNation) January 26, 2020
Crowd gathers outside Lower Merion High School’s Bryant Gymnasium as people of all ages leave flowers, Kobe’s High School Jersey, and other memorabilia @FOX29philly #KobeBryant #RipKobe pic.twitter.com/vapIrG5jPK— Lauren Dugan (@LaurenDuganTV) January 26, 2020
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.