COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Students at Allen University filled the John Hurst Adams Gymnasium to celebrate the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other people that died in the helicopter crash on Sunday.
The event was scheduled to start at 8:24, paying tribute to the two jersey numbers that Kobe wore while with the Lakers.
The gym was decorated in purple and gold and 9 candles were lit, one to honor each of the victims killed.
"When he passed, it was almost like it was fake. I couldn't really believe it," said Nandi Smith, a student at Allen University.
After the vigil, students celebrated Bryant with an open gym, which included 5-on-5 basketball games, and a half-court shooting competition.
For many, Kobe Bryant transcended the game of basketball. And despite not actually knowing Kobe, students at Allen University feel a deep connection to him.
"Kobe Bryant was a staple in the African American community for all of us. He made us believe we could do anything we wanted to," said Trevaris Brown, the SGA President. "So we wanna do this to honor him. And I know a lot of students here on campus love Kobe Bryant with him being an icon in our childhood."
The students said this tragedy has made them realize they shouldn’t take things for granted.
“For a college student, you don’t get to see your family a lot,” Nandi Smith said. “So now, I am really on my family about being with them more. Especially my dad and my sister and my brother, of course. I am always with them now and I can’t stand to lose them.”