By Hannah Torregoza
Senators on Monday paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died with his daughter Gianna and three others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, a Philippine boxing icon and an avid basketball fan, honored Bryant on social media.
“The world lost a legend today but the impact and legacy he leaves behind will last forever! #RIPMamba,” Pacquiao said on his Twitter account.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, an avid Boston Celtics fan, also joined the sporting community in mourning Bryant’s untimely demise.
Bryant, he said, will be remembered for his intensity and passion for basketball, which he instilled in his daughter and this generation.
“Kobe’s life and work ethic is a rare phenomenon in the sport. Regardless of the team we root for, we have nothing but admiration for someone who elevated the sport in more ways than one,” Villanueva said.
“As a Celtics fan, we used to be on the receiving end of Kobe’s Mamba Mentality, but there is no denying his place in the Hall of Fame. His greatness transcends time, and he will always be remembered,” he added.
“Kobe’s life is also a reminder for us to put our complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. In perhaps one of his harshest episodes in his life, he held on to his faith. He fondly recalled a talk with his spiritual adviser who said: ‘God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’
“May God’s healing hands comfort the bereaved family of Kobe Bryant in these trying times,” Villanueva said.
For Sen. Richard Gordon, Bryant’s passing was “a tragedy” and a reminder that “life is fragile” and “temporary.”
“What a tragedy. After working so very hard in his entire career to become one of the most successful stars of the NBA, Kobe Bryant has just died in a helicopter crash. I mourn with the whole sports world & pray for his family & his eternal rest. We also pray for the repose of the souls of the other casualties including Kobe’s daughter Gigi, who he obviously loved very much,” Gordon said.
Gordon noted the Bryants were with the family of baseball coach John Altobelli who also perished in the helicopter crash with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa.
“This incident really hurts everybody and is a reminder that life is fragile and everything is temporary. We must always prepare for all circumstances,” Gordon said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed his sadness and admiration for Bryant.
“There are few people in the world known by their first name—Elvis, Tiger, Serena, Kobe!” Sotto said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said although she is not a basketball fan, she knows that the “world lost a great man.”
“Woke up to such sad news today. Am not much of a basketball fan, but I do know that the world lost a great man today,” Hontiveros said on social media. “Beyond being a legend, Kobe was a loving father and an inspiration to many in terms of hard work, discipline, and giving your best. We all can relate to that.”
Sen. Imee Marcos, on the other hand, shared a photo with Kobe taken in September 2007 in Makati City with son Michael, who celebrated his 22nd birthday at that time.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, a basketball fan himself, said Bryant “died with his sneakers on.”
“Because he was bringing his daughter to a basketball tournament, then it can be said that Kobe died with his sneakers on, for the love of the game,” Angara said.
“In his prime, he was a superstar waited on by a staff of hundreds. In retirement, he was happiest as coach-cheerleader of the most important ball player in his life.
“The streets of heaven are now full of people attending the ticker-tape parade of a player who soared like an angel in court, and with his good heart acted like one off it.”
“They’re now hanging ’24’ jerseys in the rafters up there,” he added. Bryant’s jersey number was 24.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Bryant was a legend “whose fatherhood was his proudest work, whose parenthood gave him the power of fierce, unconditional love. We feel the loss of his family and world he inspired with his talent and life.”
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate sports committee, said Bryant’s death is a big loss.
“Idol ko rin po si Kobe and, in fact, may koleksyon po ako ng kanyang mga sapatos at jersey. Bilang isang manlalaro at fan rin ng basketball, isa po siya sa tinitingala ko sa three points, sa galaw, sa porma, sa lahat ng aspeto ng laro,” he said. (Kobe is my idol. In fact, I have a collection of his shoes and jerseys. Being a basketball player myself and a fan, Kobe is a player I look up to for his three-point shots, his moves, his stature, and all the aspects of his game.))
Go said Kobe’ impact is felt in other fields as well. “He is the inspiration of the young and to all of us, particularly on his discipline, hard work and dedication. From the millions of Filipinos whose lives you’ve touched one way or another, we thank you, Kobe, for inspiring us to always give our best in what we do.”