The helicopter that Kobe Bryant was on Sunday was headed to a girls basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks when it crashed, killing Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven other people on board.
One Bay Area team was in that tournament.
Madelyn and Jemma LaCap, a mother and daughter from Daly City, flew into SFO Sunday night. Jemma plays for the Bull Dawgs out of Daly City and was at the tournament where Bryant and his daughter were headed.
They said players burst into tears when they learned of the deaths of Kobe and Gianna.
“A woman said, ‘stop the games,’ and we see girls on the ground crying,” Madelyn, 13-year-old Jemma’s mother, said.
LaCap described the moment she and her daughter learned Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash.
“It was eerily quiet and there was not a dry eye in the house,” she said. “A lot of kids were crying, and a lot of parents were crying.”
More than a hundred players and coaches descended onto the court and knelt in prayer.
Jemma was nearby when Kobe Bryant’s daughter’s team was told Gianna and her father had died.
“They were in a waiting room and I heard them crying and saying ‘no,’” she said. “It was emotional.”
Teams were told not to leave the building. Some prayed in the parking lot.
Jemma and her mom had seen the Bryants at another tournament in Thousand Oaks in October. They said the tragedy reminds them to embrace every moment.
“Having a daughter myself who is that same age, I can’t imagine how the family is coping with this tragedy,” Madelyn LaCap said.
Sunday’s tournament was for girls age 14 and younger. Jemma said many girls on her team looked up to Kobe Bryant and considered him a legend.