Fans also went to Bryant’s high school outside Philadelphia.
The grief over Bryant’s death extended from coast to coast, with his high school alma mater, near Philadelphia, becoming the scene of a spontaneous shrine.
“I was heartbroken,” said Jasmine Strong, 29, who was visiting from Brooklyn and decided to visit Lower Merion High School, where fans brought flowers and other tributes after Bryant’s death. “I’m lost for words.”
She had charted Bryant’s professional career from its start: when he was 17, fresh out of Lower Merion, where he had led the basketball team to a state title in 1996.
“Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat,” Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant, said in a statement.
Indeed, others with ties to the school flocked to the campus on Sunday as word of Bryant’s death spread.
Brittany Ferro, 30, said she had also gone to Lower Merion and had been moved to come with two friends and her newborn son after she learned of Bryant’s death during dinner.
“We were very upset so we wanted to come and pay our respects,” she said. “He was one of the best of his times and he was admired by a lot of people.”
Bryant was a standout at Lower Merion, where he helped to elevate the basketball program to extraordinary heights. Bryant, who dominated the court from any position, was a draw — plenty would say the central draw in the mid-1990s.
“It was quite a treat to watch a future superstar,” said Rob Wilson, who still lives in Lower Merion Township and recalled taking his son to watch the adolescent Bryant play.
Soon after Bryant was drafted, he walked into a local diner while Wilson and his son were there.
“I remember him coming into Ruby’s and pointing him out and saying, ‘That guy’s a future superstar in the N.B.A., right here in our little Ruby’s,” Wilson recalled. “I was very touched by the fact that he was not being swarmed.”
Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania said the state would “never forget our time as Kobe’s home.”
“At Lower Merion HS, he captured our hearts and the attention of the world,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “He truly shined and brought pride to our state.”
Bryant had said his daughter wanted to play for UConn and, eventually, in the W.N.B.A.
Gianna Bryant had more than a blue blood basketball lineage. Her father often spoke proudly of her development as a player.
The 13-year-old, whose nickname was Gigi, was “hellbent” on playing for the University of Connecticut and in the W.N.B.A., her father told The Los Angeles Times last year.
The father and daughter sat courtside last March during UConn’s senior day rout of the University of Houston, which the Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma acknowledged caused some nerves for his players.
“Kobe was a little bit of a distraction,” Auriemma said at the time. “We were hoping he would just send Gigi, his daughter, and him stay home so he wouldn’t cause that distraction but we couldn’t arrange that.”
The elder Bryant was asked about his daughter picking up the game by SNY at the time.
“I watch the game through my daughter’s eyes,” Bryant said.
Kobe Bryant was one of the first guests to appear on Auriemma’s Holding Court with Geno Auriemma podcast in December 2017.
Auriemma shared Philadelphia roots with Bryant and played against Bryant’s father, Joe Bryant, in a summer league game once, he said. The coach was born in Italy, which is where Kobe Bryant lived from age 6 to 13 while his father played professional basketball there.
“Then your Italian is way better than mine,” Auriemma said on the podcast.