There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant's sudden death rocked the world on January 26, both inside the NBA and out. Just hours after the news broke out, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs faced off and everyone looked absolutely heartbroken. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, in particular, shared a moment of raw emotion as they mourned a player who represented an idol for both of them.
The news that LA Lakers icon Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among the nine passengers on the helicopter that crashed in California on Sunday, January 26 flipped the NBA world upside down.
With games taking place on Sunday, stadiums, teams, fans, and players honoured the famous No. 24 in a variety of ways.
And throughout the game at San Antonio's AT&T Center, which Toronto won 110-106, DeRozan was visibly devastated at the day's tragedy.*
Of course, he was comforted primarily by his friend Lowry. In particular, the two embraced each other for a moment, and the images of the pair holding each other close are pretty heartbreaking.
https://t.co/nwjeH3ePnK— Becca Laurie (@Becca Laurie)1580081260.0
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are best friends DeMar is from LA. Lowry is from Philly. both idolized Kobe. https://t.co/TVWBSPFLU2— sad sports fan (@sad sports fan)1580082216.0
Numerous other team members also took the time before the game to talk to the former Raptor.
The bond is clearly still extremely strong between him and Toronto's current stars.
After the game, DeRozan spoke on what Kobe meant to him.
"Everything I learned came from Kobe, everything," he said, per Sportsnet's Tim & Sid. "Take Kobe away, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have the love, the passion, the drive."
"Words can't explain the pain," he added, trying to keep himself composed after the game, per The Athletic.
"For myself, learning everything I’ve learned basketball-wise from Kobe, what he meant to the game, the inspiration that he brought to the world. Not just that. His daughter. I’m a father. I can’t imagine something like that happening. It’s a sad, sad, very sad, sad day.”
Man. Poor DeMar. I really hope he’s alright, but I can’t imagine that’s close to being the case. https://t.co/LGJpbNhpNH— Chris Walder (@Chris Walder)1580072871.0
On Sunday evening, the Spurs man also left a message for Bryant on his rarely-used Instagram page.
"You taught me everything. Rest Well Bean & GiGi Mamba Forever!" read the caption on a pic of DeRozan and Kobe embracing each other.
The former Raptor also appeared to need comforting from his coach Gregg Popovich on Sunday.
Despite the back-and-forth teasing between Pop and Deebo, the veteran boss was there for his player during this horrible time.
Gregg Popovich consoled DeMar DeRozan after the news of Kobe Bryant's death. (via @KENS5) https://t.co/v313nBAK0w— NBA on ESPN (@NBA on ESPN)1580079990.0
Meanwhile, another former Raptors hero gave his thoughts, too.
The usually ice-cold Kawhi Leonard also appeared evidently moved by the tragedy.
Kawhi played for Kobe today: “Knowing him personally, I know he’d want me to come out here and try to ball and stil… https://t.co/RyZ7KlLZPG— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report)1580093664.0
Toronto's players didn't just honour Bryant on the court, but the city remembered him off it, too. The CN Tower and Scotiabank Arena were lit in the Lakers' purple and gold.
No matter what team you're rooting for or which city you hail from, Bryant was an NBA icon and his death has hit hard.
*This article has been updated.