KOBE Bryant fans in Cebu woke up early on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020, to pay tribute to the NBA legend in the run-out dubbed as Run For Kobe, which started and ended at the Cebu City Sports Center.
The tribute run gathered fans from all walks of life—children, elite runners, fitness enthusiasts, weekend warriors, among others. The participants ran either the 24-kilometer, 8K or the 2K.
The 24K and 8K signified Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys while the 2K was for his daughter, who donned jersey No. 2.
Triathlete and runner Jezrel Baguio was one of Bryant’s fans who suited up for the event. He said it was important for them to be able to pay tribute to the athlete known for his work ethic and competitive spirit.
“I’ve been a fan since I was a high school student. I watched most of his games together with my father. I became a Los Angeles Lakers fan because of him. Even when he retired, I supported the team because of Kobe (Bryant),” he told SunStar Cebu.
Just like the other basketball fans, Baguio was devastated when he learned about the helicopter accident, which killed nine people on board, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Baguio, who ran the 24K race, said the five-time NBA champion was beyond basketball.
“He even donated money for the Yolanda victims. That’s why I admire him because he helped people even outside the court,” he said.
Former Cebu Marathon women’s 42K champion Preciousa Sanchez also came out to pay respect to the Black Mamba.
“I’ve been a fan of Kobe Bryant ever since (he arrived in the NBA). I was amazed that there are a lot of people who came out for this tribute run. Hats off to the organizers who made this event for free,” she said.
Sanchez said Bryant’s death was painful for basketball fans but things happen for a reason.
“The tragic accident was shocking. He was still young at 41, also his daughter was very young. But for sure there’s a reason for everything,” she stressed.
Dallas Mavericks diehard fan and sportswriter Edri Aznar also came out to give tribute.
“I was never a Kobe fan. In fact, I hated Kobe for years because the Lakers would beat my favorite team. However, my perspective of Kobe changed late in his career and when he retired. Kobe was a global icon. He’s a huge loss to the basketball world, especially with his advocacy to women’s basketball. Though I’m not a huge fan, Kobe will always have my respect,” he said. (RSC)