Fans mourn Kobe Bryant at his alma mater, Lower Merion High School near Philly: 'Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat'
As news of Kobe Bryant's death spread Sunday afternoon, fans gathered outside Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia to pay their respects and leave flowers at the gym that bears his name.
"The school community was deeply saddened by the loss of one of our most illustrious alumni,” said Amy Buckman, spokesperson for Lower Merion School District, during a news conference outside the school.
“Mr. Bryant is the person most identified with Lower Merion High School and school district throughout the world,” she said. “My own children have been travelling in foreign countries wearing their Lower Merion T-shirts or jackets, and people all over the world have walked up to them and said, ‘Lower Merion, Kobe Bryant.'"
Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant during his high school career, was “completely shocked and devastated,” and still processing the news, Buckman said. Downer coached Bryant from 1992 to 1996, closing Bryant’s time at Lower Merion with a state championship.
“Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat,” he told her, referring to the school's nickname.
The school’s basketball teams will pay tribute to Bryant as the season continues, Buckman said. Beyond his skill on the court, Bryant is remembered for his ongoing commitment to his alma mater, whether it was through the dedication of the gymnasium named after him, or through his support of the girls and boys basketball teams.