'I lost my hero': Lower Merion basketball head speaks on passing of Kobe Bryant

Lower Merion basketball head coach Gregg Downer broke his silence on the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant.

Downer wrote Monday night, "It may seem odd for a grown man to admit it, but yesterday I lost my hero. Never have I witnessed such passion, work, ethic, and intensity--such a unique and purposeful drive for greatness. No excuses. No shortcuts. No days off. Kobe set the standard. He was our superman."

Read Downer's full statement below:

“I was so proud to have coached him. So proud every time I saw him. I never saw a human being seek excellence like him," coach Downer said tearfully at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. 

The NBA icon attended Lower Merion High School, where he led his team to the 1996 Pennsylvania state championships. He was widely recognized as a highly talented and versatile player, while just in high school.

He played for his varsity team in his freshman year and  played all five positions at various times in his high school career. Bryant went straight to the NBA after graduating from Lower Merion. He worked out with the Philadelphia 76ers, was selected by the Charlotte Hornets, but was traded to the Lakers. 

Bryant remained committed to his roots, dedicating a gymnasium at Lower Merion High School. He was an avid supporter of the school’s girls and boys teams and assisted Downer with basketball camps for kids during summer breaks.


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