CASHMERE, Wash. -- If you're wondering about the lengthy list of Kobe Bryant's off-the-court contributions and the countless lives he touched, you don't have to look very far to find them.
Just two weeks before Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed with seven other people in a helicopter crash in Southern California, they traveled to Cashmere High School in Chelan County to visit high school basketball star Hailey Van Lith.
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I am at a loss for words. I can only be thankful God gave me time to build a friendship and mentorship with both of you. Never have I seen a passion for life burn so bright in two individuals. Thank you for changing my life. Conversations I shared with you both touched my heart and I will cherish them forever. Until I see you again, I love y’all and Rest In Peace❤️
Van Lith, who trained with Bryant at his basketball camp last summer, said she was at a loss for words following news of the deaths of Kobe and "GiGi."
"Never have I seen a passion for life burn so bright in two individuals," she said on Instagram. "Thank you for changing my life."
Even closer to home, here in Seattle, Storm guard Jewell Loyd, who called Kobe a friend for the past five years, said he pushed her outside of her comfort zone.
“I pretty much talk to Kobe once or twice a month,” Loyd told Q13 Sports Director Aaron Levine. “I ask him questions about the game or how to beat a certain defense or just about life, really, I just text him and he responds back.”
Reflecting on his death, Loyd said her friendship with Kobe Bryant "molded" her.
"It wasn't just about basketball, but about how I can make a bigger impact on the world," the WNBA star said on Twitter.
In the words of local NBA star Jamal Crawford: “Whatever it was you did – football, basketball, soccer, acting, whatever, Kobe inspired you to be better.”