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Fans cry for Kobe: ‘A part of LA died’

Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)
Fans mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP) (Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES – Fans of Kobe Bryant wept, prayed and remembered the basketball legend outside his second home at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Aviation Expert Ed Booth who has been analyzing data from the crash, including images from the crash site, said this was a case of high-speed impact into the ground.

“When it struck the ground, it was either out of control, or the pilot was somehow disoriented or there was some kind of mechanical malfunction that rendered the helicopter uncontrollable,” Booth said.

Now millions of fans from China to here in the River City are reacting, many in disbelief.

“It’s really going to set in that one of the greatest of all times in our generation who was relatively young just passed. So, appreciate people while you got them” fan Edgar Wiseman said.

"He was the mayor of LA to me," said Rene Sotomayor, a 46-year-old Riverside resident who was wearing a Lakers cap and a T-shirt with a picture of Bryant wearing a crown.

"A lot of people are saying today's the day that part of L.A. died," he said. "I know I'm going to shed a lot of tears in the days to come."

Martina Araula, a 29-year-old Bellflower resident, said Bryant "had so much more that we were looking forward to."

"Basketball was done," she said. "We already accepted that, but he was still everywhere."

She said she looked up to Bryant growing up and that his relationship with his daughters was especially inspirational.

"The fact that he had daughters, and I was playing sports growing up and he was our icon, and the fact that he was trying to push that this was going to be your next icon and she was his daughter ... I just appreciated that he cared so much about women's sports," she said.

Julie Sierra, a 24-year-old Los Angeles resident, said she was struck by the memorial and the fans because of the deep emotion.

"One thing that I had really noticed is for the amount of people that are out here, it's silent," she said. "Everybody's in grief. Everybody's mourning. Everybody has respect for this man and his family and his daughter. It's painful. We really lost somebody legendary today."

William Anderson, a 30-year-old Long Beach resident, said that even though Bryant was from Philadelphia, "he is LA."

“It’s like Magic, Kobe. They’re like, they’re Mount Rushmore of L.A,” he said. “They’re our Mount Rushmore.”