Morans coach Owuor mourns inspirational Bryant

As tributes continue to pour in following the death of former Los Angeles Lakers and NBA star Kobe Bryant, Morans head coach Cliff Owuor has paid his respects terming his death as a huge loss to the basketball fraternity.

Popularly referred to as the ‘Black mamba’, Kobe, his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers died when the helicopter they were riding in went down in heavy fog and hilly terrain in suburban Calabasas, northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

“I feel bad because this news has shocked me and it is sudden. I’ve named my son after Kobe and yesterday was his birthday and Kobe died on the same day, he is devastated by this news.”

Owuor says the basketball nations has been robbed of an invaluable gem that inspired generations.

“He was somebody I enjoyed watching and he really inspired the game of basketball across the globe. He was actively involved in the growth of the game so it’s a huge loss.”

Morans recently booked their ticket for the next round of qualifiers in the Afrobasket championships slated for November and Owuor believes his charges drew inspiration from the Lakers great to accomplish the unprecedented feat.

“You’ve heard people talk of the Mamba mentality and Kobe’s name was the Black Mamba.

“It’s something we use to inspire players in that you’ve got to be in a ‘beast mode’ where you come to a game with a strong mindset to play and compete extremely hard and win at all costs.”

Elsewhere, musicians and performers at the Grammy Awards paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday at his former home arena, the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, hours after the NBA icon’s demise.

“Tonight is for Kobe,” pop star Lizzo announced as she took the stage to open the Grammy Awards before performing exuberant versions of her hits “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts” to a standing ovation.

“We are all feeling crazy sadness right now, because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero

And we’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” the show’s host, Alicia Keys, said in remarks to open the show.

Keys then brought members of the Boyz II Men on stage to join them in an a capella version of their ballad “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye,” dedicated to Bryant.

The show was being broadcast from the Staples Centre, home court for the Los Angeles Lakers, where Bryant starred for two decades as one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players.

“It’s a real tough day and we want to send our love to the families, the kids, the mothers,” performer DJ Khaled said backstage. “It’s hard to catch a vibe right now at this moment but we’re going to do it.”

Teen pop star Billie Eilish, a Los Angeles native nominated for six Grammy awards on the night, posted a photo of Bryant on her Instagram account; along with a video clip of the basketball star Bryant talking with Gianna.

Grammy nominee Camila Cabello also posted a photo of Bryant on Instagram and wrote that, despite not being a basketball fan, his documentary “MUSE” got her through a painful time in her life.

“I watched every interview, I read every quote of his, and I wish that he knew how many times he saved me, how many times he helped me access a champion in myself that I couldn’t have seen on my own,” the singer wrote.

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and three children; Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

Additional reporting by Reuters