BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A year ago, on January 26, 2020, the world seem to take a collective pause as we all learned of the tragedy that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif.
A group of people rooted together by their love of sports and by their love of family.
Kobe Bryant was larger than life and his legend became larger than the game he dedicated much of his life too following his passing that tragic Sunday in 2020.
In the year that followed, the basketball world has reflected on that legacy.
"He was too much of a person. So let's impact it on sport. It's not one gonna be a year or two, I mean he's a legend. He's a guy that's going to be talked about. Forever," CSUB Men's Basketball Coach Rod Barnes said.
"Still can feel it, the power that he has and things that he's still capable of doing, you know, the impact that he still can bring to this game," CSUB Women's Basketball Coach Greg McCall said.
From L.A. to Bakersfield, teams at all levels, players of all ages and coaches from all backgrounds have felt Kobe's presence and have been reminded to leave everything on the court as the Mamba always did.
It's been no different at Cal State Bakersfield for its basketball programs this season.
"I think a lot of the kids and coaches says his depth has taken this game a little bit more serious thinkers, take a life a little bit more serious. No, I actually think we all have our style souls to find out you know each night, we go out, are we given out best," Barnes said.
While Kobe left the court as a player he was making sure to pass the torch to his daughter Gigi, who was busy inspiring her dad’s passion for women’s basketball.
"Me personally I think he was going to either, own a team or probably become part of the web organization somewhere down the line to where he's going to make a huge impact because of because of his doors, and I know that feeling, you know when you're a 'girl dad', you want to make a huge impact and you know my daughters have made a huge impact on my life and the game of basketball and the way I look at it on the women's side as well too," McCall said.
The sports world also lost three members of the Altobelli family in that tragedy, including longtime Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli. Also a longtime friend of Bakersfield College’s Tim Painton.
"With his passing, it's amazing the you find out the impact that he had on every player that he ever coached coaches have coached with him and his, his influence in the baseball world was far reaching it went beyond the community college level reminds me how many people's lives he actually touched," BC Baseball Coach Tim Painton said.
Painton was able to take part in the Altobelli’s memorial that honored John, his wife Keri and his daughter Alyssa.
"Very special to have that opportunity to go down to that. And, again, just kind of hard to believe that he's gone… still," Painton said.
As the old sports cliche goes, 'you shouldn't take the game you love for granted.' This tragedy gave a whole new meaning to that lesson.
As these legacies will serve as a daily reminder on baseball fields and basketball courts near and far.
"We've been more thankful and grateful for the opportunity we get to coach and play this game we love so much," Barnes said.
"And so for the last year. Gosh. we've learned a lot of lessons in terms of just appreciating each day, and appreciating people that you care about and, and friends and family," Painton said.