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College & Pro Sports

ABC(NEW YORK ) -- The fiancee of the late Aaron Hernandez is speaking out for the first time since the release of a Netflix new docuseries on the life of the football-star turned-convicted killer, including rumors about his sexuality.

In a sit-down interview with ABC News' Amy Robach that will air Wednesday on "Good Morning America," Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez said that while Hernandez did not express to her in any way he may have been gay or bisexual, if he did, she "would not have loved him any differently."

Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end, was found guilty of murder in April 2015 for the killing of Odin Lloyd, the 27-year-old fiance of Jenkins-Hernandez' sister, who was found shot to death in a suburb of Boston about two years earlier. After Hernandez's trial, and prior to his suicide in his prison cell in 2017, his alleged relationships with men became a topic of discussion.

The Netflix docuseries "Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez," which was released in January, spoke to a high school teammate and friend of Hernandez, Dennis Sansoucie, who said the two engaged in a sexual relationship while in high school.

Jenkins-Hernandez said that she knew of Sansoucie, but doesn't know him well and he wasn't very involved in Hernandez's adult life.

However, she said through tears, "you start to feel for people that may be hiding inside how they really feel. And I-- I feel awful for that."

Jenkins-Hernandez, who was engaged to Hernandez at the time of his suicide and shares a daughter with him, said he was "certainly a man to me. There was no behavior that made me think differently."

She wishes that if Hernandez had been hiding his sexuality, he would have come to her.

"I would not have loved him any differently. I would've understood," Jenkins-Hernandez said. "Yes, of course, it would've been hard to watch somebody walk away or to live a different life. But it's not shameful."

"I think it's a beautiful thing," she added. "I just-- I wish I was able to tell him that."

Watch the interview on Wednesday at 7 a.m. ET on "Good Morning America."

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 1.5 million people have signed an online petition seeking to have the late Kobe Bryant be the new logo for the National Basketball Association.

"With the untimely and unexpected passing of the great Kobe Bryant please sign this petition in an attempt to immortalize him forever as the new NBA Logo," the petition states on Change.org.

ABC News has reached out to the NBA for comment.

The 41-year-old retired NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, were among those instantly killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Southern California on Sunday morning. They were en route to a youth basketball tournament at his training facility Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, and their three daughters.

A total of nine people were on board the 1991 Sikorsky S-76 at the time, and no one survived the crash, authorities said. The National Transportation Safety Board, along with help from the FBI, is investigating the incident.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, enjoyed a storied 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring from professional basketball in 2016.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver described Bryant as "one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary."

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning," Silver said in a statement Sunday. "But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."

After retiring from the NBA, Bryant began coaching his daughter Gianna's middle school basketball team, becoming an outspoken supporter for girls and women in basketball.

Women's National Basketball Association Commissioner Cathy Engelbert described the deaths of Bryant and his daughter as "sudden and tragic."

“Kobe’s support for the WNBA and women’s basketball along with his passion for helping young girls and boys follow their dreams made him a true legend for our sport," Engelbert said in a statement Sunday. "We admired him not just as a legendary basketball player, but as a father, a youth coach, and a role model for future generations of athletes."

However, Bryant's career on and off the court was not without criticism due to his past. He was accused of sexual assault by a hotel employee in Colorado in 2003.

Bryant always denied that the encounter was nonconsensual, and the case was ultimately dismissed after the victim said she didn't want to testify. The two parties settled a civil suit, and Bryant publicly apologized to his accuser at that time.

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Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- The University of Connecticut women's basketball team paid tribute Monday to Gianna Bryant, the 13-year-old daughter of NBA legend Kobe Bryant who was following in her dad's footsteps as a basketball star.

The Huskies placed a No. 2 UConn jersey with flowers on their bench at Monday's game in Hartford against USA Basketball.

The team shared a photo of the tribute on social media, writing, "Mambacita is forever a Husky."

Mambacita is forever a Husky 💙 pic.twitter.com/3wdAbdK0Ye

— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) January 27, 2020

Gianna, known as Gigi, earned the nickname "Mambacita" because of her tenacity on the basketball court, like her famous dad, Bryant, whose nickname was "Mamba."

The father and daughter were on their way to a basketball game at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, Sunday morning when their helicopter crashed on a hillside in Calabasas. The Bryants, six other passengers and the helicopter pilot were all killed in the crash.

Bryant started coaching Gianna's basketball team when he retired in 2016, ending his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gianna reportedly wanted to attend the University of Connecticut and even got a chance to meet with the school's women's basketball team when they made a visit to Los Angeles in 2017. UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma also said Gianna visited the campus in Connecticut, according to ESPN.

The UConn team and Team USA also observed a 24-second moment of silence at Monday night's game, in honor of Bryant's No. 24. At the start of the game, Team USA held the ball for an eight-second backcourt violation in honor of Bryant's first jersey number, No. 8.

The Huskies later ran out the 24-second shot clock as a tribute to Bryant's second NBA jersey number, according to ESPN.

In addition to coaching Gianna's girls' basketball team, Bryant was known as an outspoken supporter of the WNBA and female basketball players.

Just a few days before his death, Bryant said he could see a day where women could play in the NBA, the same league he dominated for 20 years.

"There's a lot of players with a lot of skill that could do it," he told CNN last Wednesday. "Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne. There's a lot of great players out there, so they could certainly keep up with them."

Bryant was also actively involved with the WNBA through his close friend and former teammate Derek Fisher, who is now the head coach for the Los Angeles Sparks.

"I want us to continue to push for what he was most recently striving for in terms of equity and opportunity for young girls, for girls like his daughters that are still with us," Fisher told ABC News' Good Morning America Monday.

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Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- Former Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson has reportedly had an estimated half a million dollars of jewelry belonging to him stolen from a Philadelphia hotel.

The incident occurred on Monday at approximately 10:30 a.m. at the Sofitel Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, according to ABC News’ Philadelphia station WPVI-TV.

Sources confirmed to WPVI that the suspect removed an estimated $500,000 worth of jewelry from a backpack belonging to Iverson before making his escape.

Iverson was not present at the time of the theft.

The suspect has been described by authorities as a 20-year-old man who is about six feet tall with a slim build. He was last seen wearing a red shirt with dark pants and black and white sneakers with a dark-colored jacket.

Iverson, 44, was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016 after a 14-year career playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies. He won the 2001 NBA MVP award, was an 11-time All Star and also won Rookie of the Year honors in 1997.

ABC News has reached out to the Philadelphia Police Department for comment and there was no immediate response.

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John McCoy/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James shared a heartfelt tribute to his "brother" and former Olympic teammate Kobe Bryant on Monday, promising to carry on the NBA superstar's legacy in the wake of his untimely death.

In his first comments on the tragedy, James said he had just spoken to Bryant on Sunday -- after passing the basketball legend on the all-time scoring list in Philadelphia Saturday night.

"I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had," James wrote on Instagram. "I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have."

Bryant was one of nine people on a private helicopter that went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, killing everyone on board. He was 41 years old. Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed in the crash.

James, who passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring on Saturday, said he was "heartbroken and devastated" but vowed to carry on the superstar's legacy.

"Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation," he wrote. "Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!"

James shared the post to his nearly 60 million Instagram followers late Monday night. It acquired about four million likes in less than an hour.

Bryant was not a frequent Instagram poster, but his last post before his death featured an image of he and LeBron smiling and embracing each other on the court.

"On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next," Bryant wrote in the caption Saturday, referring to his successor as the leader of the Lakers.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Cleveland 115, Detroit 100
Miami 113, Orlando 92
Dallas 107, Oklahoma City 97
Sacramento 133 Minnesota 129 (OT)
Chicago 110, San Antonio 109
Houston 126, Utah 117

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Washington 4, Montreal 2
New Jersey 4, Ottawa 3 (SO)
Dallas 3, Tampa Bay 2 (OT)
Toronto 5, Nashville 2
Vancouver 3, St. Louis 1
San Jose 4, Anaheim 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Kansas 65, Oklahoma St. 50
Iowa 68, Wisconsin 62

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KABC-TV(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles has a new mural to honor basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who died with seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

As tributes and memorials pour in from all over the world for the former Los Angeles Lakers star, a mural dedicated to the father and daughter has already gone up in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles, according to ABC News station KGO-TV.

Bryant, 41, and his daughter were painted less than 24-hours after their deaths. The mural shows them smiling cheek-to-cheek with black script over a white ribbon that reads, "Kobe & Gigi Forever. Daddy's Girl."

Bryant and those who died in the crash were flying from Orange County, where Bryant has a home in Newport Park, to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where Bryant hosted basketball clinics. Bryant's daughter's basketball team was scheduled to play in the Mamba Cup, a youth basketball tournament that's named after Bryant's moniker.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti described Bryant in a statement as a "giant who inspired, amazed and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court -- and awed us with his intellect and humility as father, husband, creative genius and ambassador for the game he loved."

"He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes," Garcetti said. "This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe's entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief."

Other victims killed in the crash included John Altobelli, a local college baseball coach, as well as his wife, Kerri Altobelli, and his daughter, Alyssa Altobelli. Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach for a private school in Orange County, was also killed in the crash, her husband confirmed on Facebook.

Two other people aboard the doomed flight were identified as Sarah and Peyton Chester, ABC News has confirmed.

The identity of the one other victim, the pilot, remains unconfirmed.

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and three daughters, Natalia, Bianca and Capri.

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Elsa/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- "Mamba mentality" is more than a mantra uttered by ambitious athletes -- it was the driving force behind Kobe Bryant and his efforts to inspire and foster player development, particularly within women's basketball.

The basketball legend tragically died along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday while en route to a youth basketball tournament at his Thousand Oaks, Calif., training facility, Mamba Sports Academy.

Sunday was part of the first weekend of 2020 games in the inaugural Mamba Cup tournament, and the event was canceled in the wake of the news.

Kobe Bryant's involvement in youth and pre-professional basketball


After his storied 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers ended with his 2016 retirement, the five-time NBA champion began to coach Gianna's middle school basketball team.

"We've been working together for a year and a half and they've improved tremendously in that time," Bryant said in an interview with "Entertainment Tonight" in 2018. "I've got a group of great parents, a group of really, really intelligent, hardworking girls, and -- they're all seventh graders, they're all 12 years old -- but they've been playing so well."

The two-time Olympic gold medalist continued to grow the game he cherished for generations to come through youth programs in Southern California.

In 2018, he announced a partnership with a multi-sport training facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and re-branded it as the Mamba Sports Academy. The academy opened in 2019.

Game on. 🙌🏾 https://t.co/jo5pnD241c #MambaMentality https://t.co/0XqRwtXKTV

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 3, 2018

"MAMBA Sports Academy is a natural expansion of my commitment to educating and empowering the next generation of kids through sports," the 18-time All-Star said in a press release.

The inaugural basketball tournament series, known as the Mamba Cup, kicked off in September 2019 and was slated to include a series of 11 tournaments culminating with championships at the end of March.

Check out these dedicated #MambaLeague players and winners of the #Wizenard book report challenge from @bgclaharbor! Your futures are as big as you can dream. It just takes consistency, determination, and perseverance. I look forward to watching what you can do! #MambaMentality pic.twitter.com/WCXcR7JpYl

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 30, 2019

Bryant's support for women's basketball extended to the college level. As an example of his individual dedication, he became a close friend to University of Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, going to her games -- along with Gianna -- and even dedicating an episode of his ESPN show to analyzing her game, according to ESPN.

Following the news of his death, Ionescu dedicated her Sunday night game against rival Oregon State to him.

Sabrina Ionescu mourns her friend Kobe Bryant ahead of her game against Oregon State. pic.twitter.com/urdYuFSNW5

— espnW (@espnW) January 26, 2020

"I mean everything I do, I do it for him obviously, really close friend and uh this season's for him," she told ESPN, visibly emotional after her team's 66-57 win.

Outspoken support for the WNBA


Bryant was known as an outspoken supporter of the WNBA and voiced his support for its athletes as recently as last week.

ESPN reported that Bryant told CNN he could see a day where women could play in the same league that he spent 20 years in.

"There's a lot of players with a lot of skill that could do it," he told CNN last Wednesday. "Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne. There's a lot of great players out there, so they could certainly keep up with them."

Bryant was also actively involved with the WNBA through his close friend and former teammate Derek Fisher, who is now the head coach for the Los Angeles Sparks.

"I want us to continue to push for what he was most recently striving for in terms of equity and opportunity for young girls, for girls like his daughters that are still with us," Fisher told Good Morning America on Monday.

"For girls like my daughters, for women to-come. He didn't just talk about those things. He lived it. Very similar to what he did on the court, he didn't talk about being great. He worked at it everyday," Fisher said.

One of Fisher's star players and ESPN NBA analyst Chiney Ogwumike reflected on Bryant's legacy after the tragic news and explained how much he meant to women's basketball.

"Me personally being a part of the women's basketball community this is just extremely personal for us as well," she told ESPN. "I know we talk a lot about his NBA credentials, but he was very much present at WNBA games, saw him at WNBA All-Stars."

She said Bryant had "a tremendous relationship" with the Sparks, adding that Fisher "always tells us stories about how to be a champion each and every day based on having to go up against Kobe in practice."

Ogwumike also recalled being at the U.S. Women's National Team training competition when "Kobe called us into a private room with his daughters."

"He spent the entire half-time and then some, about 30 minutes, talking to us about how to understand Coach Fisher and how to compete at the highest level and it really helped us as players. He was always giving back," she added.

However, Bryant's high-profile involvement in women's and girls' athletics was not without criticism due to his past. The basketball star was accused of sexual assault by a hotel employee in Colorado, where he received treatment for a knee injury, in 2003.

Bryant denied the allegation and charges were ultimately dropped in 2004. He publicly apologized to his accuser at that time.

Tributes for Kobe Bryant pour in from female athletes

The Women's National Basketball Association, its teams and current and former WNBA players shared their love for Bryant and support for his family on social media as news of his death spread.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/QA7l3VTRNe

— WNBA (@WNBA) January 26, 2020

#MambaForever pic.twitter.com/O95kfmuecO

— Los Angeles Sparks (@LA_Sparks) January 27, 2020

Kobe and Gianna meant a lot to our program. Our thoughts are with the Bryant family.

Mamba Mentality will live on forever, but they are deeply missed. 💙 pic.twitter.com/4Ib96yFxgg

— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) January 26, 2020

We have lost more than a basketball player today. We lost a legend, my friend and my brother! We have also lost a part of our future with GG gone too soon💔💔💔💔💔💔💔Prayers for all the family 🙏🏾🙏🏾

— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) January 26, 2020

Truly devastating. 💔My heart goes out to all these families and their loved ones. Life is fragile. We all must remind ourselves of this. Hug your loved ones tight and never take a day for granted. 💛💜 pic.twitter.com/OZakTZGfWY

— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) January 27, 2020

I’ll never forget what #Kobe shared with us on @GMA...when I asked him if he missed basketball he said something that really stayed with me...that there’s a difference between what you do and who you are 👏🏾

We honor his life and legacy in our special tribute next @ABC and @ESPN pic.twitter.com/RBITKer35J

— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) January 27, 2020

I remember the last thing I said to Kobe when we spoke last month. I thanked him for being such an inspirational role model for my team & thanked him for being a great dad—that was his highest honor. I’m gonna miss him. pic.twitter.com/BSzq1D4rA9

— Kelly Graves (@GoDucksKG) January 27, 2020

Never a good way to say "goodbye" 😢 Rest in peace Kobe and Gigi ❤ Prayers up for all of the families that lost loved ones.🙏🏽🙏🏽
. . . https://t.co/wjopNDTJXM pic.twitter.com/uxgI9SKaMT

— Tamika Catchings (@Catchin24) January 27, 2020

I waited to post anything because like so many I refused to believe it! My heart aches for Vanessa and her girls and all of the families. Life is too short! Kobe, thank you for being you! Gigi will live on through the W as will you!#GoneTooSoon #MambaOut pic.twitter.com/5Woxdxtw2M

— Sheryl Swoopes (@airswoopes22) January 27, 2020

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Harry How/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Los Angeles Lakers player Derek Fisher is speaking out on the death of his former teammate, Kobe Bryant and Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, who died alongside him in a helicopter crash Sunday.

"It was a blessing to be able to watch someone on a daily basis strive to be the best at what they do, to be the best in the world at what they do. That's who he was and always will be to me," Fisher told ABC News' Good Morning America Monday."

"My heart just hurts for his family and for fact that he is no longer with us," he added.

The nine people on board died in the crash occurring in the wealthy Southern California residential neighborhood of Calabasas, including 41-year-old Bryant. The tragedy rocked the basketball community as well as fans across the nation.

Bryant was a 5-time NBA champion during his 20-year career with the Lakers.

Fisher, who is now coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, said that off the court, Bryant still wanted to be the best whether it be as a family man, or in his work with girls' basketball.

"With all humans there are different versions [of us] as we grow and evolve. To be with Kobe from his rookie year in 1996 to the Kobe in 2004 to the Kobe in 2010, his evolution as a husband and as a father and as a man that wanted to impact the community of basketball, to think about what he has committed himself to in terms of young girls and women in the sport of basketball," Fisher said.

Back in 2018, Bryant revealed that he started coaching Gianna’s middle school team when he retired in 2016.

"I want us to continue to push for what he was most recently striving for in terms of equity and opportunity for young girls, for girls like his daughters that are still with us," Fisher added. "For girls like my daughters, for women to-come. He didn't just talk about those things. He lived it. Very similar to what he did on the court, he didn't talk about being great. He worked at it everyday."

"That's what I want people to remember about his life off the court as well," he continued.

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Christian Petersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For a generation of basketball players, Kobe Bryant wasn't just an icon -- he was the reason they played the game at all.

LeBron James, who passed Bryant for third all-time in NBA scoring over the weekend, credited Bryant with nothing short of fueling his drive to play in the league.

"I was growing up in the ranks when Kobe came into the league," James said Saturday night. "It wasn't a dream of mine to come straight from high school at that point in time, to the NBA, but I was like, 'Wow, a 17-, 18-year-old kid, being able to make that leap, that's pretty damn cool.' As I started playing more ball, and I went to high school, the things he was doing on the floor, I admired and I wanted to be a part of."

Bryant, who spent all 20 years of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Sunday when a private helicopter they were aboard crashed in Calabasas, California.

He was 41 years old.

Sixteen years Bryant's junior, Joel Embiid, the All-Star center for the Philadelphia Sixers, said the Lakers star changed his life's trajectory.

"I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals," Embiid shared on Twitter. "I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE."

There were few basketball players -- or athletes in general -- not influenced by Bryant since the turn of the millennium.

Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School, outside of Philadelphia. The pick was made by the Los Angeles Lakers, who had worked out a trade for the selection prior to the draft in exchange for center Vlade Divac.

He played in his first summer league game as a 17-year-old; he did not feel outclassed by the competition, however.

"Watching him go to a summer league game, OK, the place was jam packed," former Lakers general manager Jerry West, who drafted Bryant, told ABC News on Sunday night. "My son relayed a story to me just today about how he scored 29 points as a 17-year-old kid. After the game he remarked to my son, 'Boy that was really easy.'"

"I think because he started so young that he resonated with so many people, young kids who have hopes and dreams like he did," West said.

By his third season, Bryant was starting every game and one year later, under new head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers were NBA champions for the first of three straight seasons.

"Kobe was a chosen one -- special in many ways to many people," Jackson said in a statement Sunday. "Our relationship as coach/player transcended the norm. He went beyond the veil."

Bryant won two more championships -- in 2009 and 2010.

Much as the original Dream Team opened markets in Europe, Bryant was among the forebearers for the NBA's expansion into Asia and specifically China, where he was immensely popular.

The guard's defense, rebounding and passing were all exceptional, but it was his offensive arsenal that wowed his legions of imitators -- both those who would go on to play in the pros and those whose heroics were limited to driveways everywhere.

Bryant ranks third in career 50-point games -- behind only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan -- and his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006 is second only to Chamberlain's 100-point game.

"The work ethic that he put into the game; he had zero flaws offensively, zero," James said Saturday. "You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. ... You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot the midrange, he could post, he could make free throws, he had zero flaws offensively."

Bryant finished his career with one last epic game: scoring 60 points his final game.

He'll be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021.

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