Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner Reflect On Impact Of Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant, Staples Center
Harrison Hill/USA TODAY

A state of shock and sadness has fallen over the city of Los Angeles and throughout the sports world since news of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday.

The Lakers, understandably still grieving the loss as a collective franchise, postponed Tuesday’s game against the Clippers. They won’t play until facing the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Friday night.

The tragedy occurred a few miles from where the fifth annual Justin Turner Golf Classic was set to be held on Monday. Justin and Kourtney Turner again organized a sold-out event at Sherwood Country Club, with proceeds benefitting Justin Turner Foundation beneficiaries.

The golf tournament festivities begin with a dinner the night prior, which was nearly cancelled in light of the horrific accident. “We were trying to figure out whether to even do it or not,” Turner said.

“We ended up having a good showing, a lot of people came and we talked about it a little bit. The good part about it was everyone kind of sharing their stories about how Kobe impacted their lives or touched their lives. Everyone has their own unique image of Kobe and what he did for them when they were growing up.”

Turner, a Long Beach, Calif., native, is among those who idolized Bryant. “Obviously a very difficult day for Los Angeles, for the country, for the world. Losing a sports icon is tough. Don’t really have any words,” he said.

“I think the hard part for everyone is he grew up in the living room with you. Watching him play for so many years, my generation, when you think sports in L.A., Kobe is the top of the top. Just really feeling for his family — Vanessa and the girls. It’s difficult to even wrap your head around. As much as he’s done on the court, the things he was doing and getting involved in after his career, are remarkable.

“We talked about it [Sunday] a little bit. You don’t find superstars of his caliber continue to be that influential in a community and for the game of basketball, especially fo women’s basketball. He’s a guy I always looked up to. Every time I had a water bottle or piece of trash or picking up balls in the cage, you grab it and shoot it towards the trash can or ball basket and yell, ‘Kobe!’ I’m just glad I got to grow up watching him and seeing everything he did and how amazing of a man he was. It’s pretty special.”

Bryant attended multiple Dodgers games over the past two decades, perhaps most notably during the 2018 World Series. He toured the clubhouse, greeted players, announced the team’s lineup and Vin Scully’s coined phrase, “It’s time for Dodger Baseball” prior to first pitch of Game 4.

“It’s so devastating. I got to meet him a few times and what everybody said about him, you just felt that in the room. As far as his presence and just what he meant to the city,” Clayton Kershaw said.

“Being here now, playing sports here for the last 12 years, everybody talks about Kobe. That’s the guy. You feel for everybody. You feel impacted even if you didn’t know him. To his wife and daughters, I just feel terrible.

“I hope they can find some comfort in the legacy he left and millions of people he impacted. You can’t even fathom something like that. To lose a spouse and kid in the same day, nobody should ever have to go through that. I hope they find the strength somewhere.”

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