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Two years later, Kobe Bryant's death still haunts Grand Rapids Gold head coach

On the anniversary of Kobe's death, Jason Terry recalls how he and his daughter were set to play Bryant and his late daughter that same day.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — January 26th 2020. 

It's not only a day the basketball community remembers, it's one where they were remember exactly where they were when they heard Kobe Bryant had died.

“I still have moments to this day, where you think 'why was I there?'” Grand Rapids Gold head coach Jason Terry admits.

Terry was in southern California when Bryant's helicopter crashed, killing all nine passengers. Two years later, he still remembers everything about that day.

“The fog was low. Like, you couldn’t see two or three cars ahead of you and it was just an eerie feeling.”

But Terry pressed on as he drove his teenage daughter, Jaida, and her basketball team to the gym. The 19-year NBA veteran was their coach, and the team they were facing that day was coached by Bryant and led by his daughter, Gianna.

“This was the first of the Mamba Cup Series. We get there the night before. Kobe’s team was playing in the opening game. I shook his hand, I hugged him, told him 'hello' and I sat courtside and watched him as he coached his daughter.”

The competition was on and in a way, it felt like old times. Only now, their daughters were front and center.

"She looked like him with her mannerisms,” Terry recalls of Gianna. “It was just unreal to watch.”

The game was at 11 a.m. Terry and his team got there at 9:30 and that's when he heard the news.

“I literally walked through the middle of the court as the game was going on and just told everyone, ‘Stop the game! Kobe has passed.'” 

"The ref looked at me, like 'are you serious,’ and then you heard some screams from up top at the Mamba Academy (Kobe's basketball school.)"

Kobe was gone. Gianna was gone, too, as well as the seven others on the helicopter.

“Everybody converged onto one main court. It was a group prayer, with all the athletes, all the parents, all the coaches. One gentleman said some beautiful words but after that, the gym was just complete silence.”

It’s not easy for Terry to discuss that day, but it is easy for him to talk about Kobe, a basketball legend, whom he also considered a friend.

“He was a fierce competitor on the court but off the court. After the battles, he was just a regular human being,” Terry said. “Our relationship was good. It was a mutual respect."

Watch the full interview below: 


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