Fresno basketball team spent time with Kobe Bryant hours before tragedy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The memorial continued to grow outside of Kobe Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park.

A day earlier, AAU tournament action was halted as word spread Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna had been killed in the helicopter crash.

"Everyone was on their knees praying and crying," says Lady Head coach Demetrius Porter. "A lot of kids were hurt."

Former Bulldog Porter heads the Fresno Heat AAU team. One of the girl's teams was about to take on Gianna's squad.

Porter's son, Tristian, and his teammates snapped a photo with Kobe on Saturday.

"The atmosphere also made you reflect on your own personal life," Porter said. "The time you have with your kid. The pain right there from that to like showing appreciation for each other."

We first met an 18-year-old Bryant when his pro career started in 1996. He and the Lakers played their first pre-season game of 1996 at Selland Arena.

"Do you remember Byron Scott on this team when you were a kid," Bryant said in 1996. "Man, I was little when I used to watch Byron Scott, when I used to see him run around and shoot pull-up jump shots. Always tease him about it too."

Bryant's laser focus turned him into of the best the NBA has ever seen. Kids wanted that Mamba Mentality.

"It was the culture," Porter said. "Shooting a piece of trash in the trash can you're yelling, 'Kobe!'"
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