The death of NBA legend and global superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi is hitting the Los Angeles Latino community particularly rough, according to NBC News.
Bryant, through basketball, was able to unite people of all different backgrounds, particularly if they are Lakers fans.
But his connection to the Los Angeles Latino community goes all the way back to when the team traded for him on draft day back in 1996.
"My Latino fans are very important to me because they were the first ones who embraced me the most when I first got here," Bryant said in a 2016 Spanish-language interview that was widely shared on social media in tribute. "So I told them, 'Give me two or three years so that I can learn a little bit of Spanish.'"
Bryant is the late husband of Vanessa Bryant, who is Mexican-American. Together the couple has four daughters.
It is widely known that Kobe is fluent in Italian, having spent part of his childhood overseas during his dad’s playing career. Bryant also got pretty good at Spanish, too, often conducting interviews in the language.
Bryant said he was inspired to learn the language because of Vanessa and because his Latino fans "mean everything" to him. He told Univision in an interview that he learned Spanish by watching telenovelas with his family.
No doubt the willingness and ability to speak the language, his marriage to Vanessa, his half Latina daughters all contributed to the connection many in the community felt towards Kobe Bryant.
Many Latino fans tweeted out their thoughts of the news, both in Spanish and English.
(Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)