Morgantown, West Virginia – Yesterday would have marked NBA Legend Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday.  Bryant, who was tragically killed earlier in the year in a helicopter crash, paved the way and inspired many young players.

Several West Virginia players, including Oscar Tshiebwe, Miles McBride, Taz Sherman and Emmitt Matthews, Jr. discussed what Kobe meant to them growing up.

Sensational sophomore Oscar Tshiebwe said of Bryant: “He’s the reason I started playing basketball.  He inspired probably everyone in the entire world.  ‘Don’t ever give up and don’t ever let yourself down’, that’s the Mamba Mentality.”

Junior Emmitt Matthews, Jr. said, “He made a huge impact on all basketball players.  After he left the game of basketball, he showed that he could go on to do other great things with storytelling and other interests outside of basketball.”

Senior guard Taz Sherman has been inspired on the court but also off the court by Kobe: “The Mamba Mentality doesn’t just go for sports, it applies to everything you do in life.  On the court, his mentality of leaving it all out there, that’s where I got that from.”

Freshman Jalen Bridges said the following about Kobe’s influence on him: “His whole approach to the game was different than every other player and that’s why Kobe is one of the best basketball players of all time.  Kobe will never, ever be forgotten.”

Sophomore guard Miles McBride added: “All players today try to emulate everything about his game.  He had that competitive grind that told his opponents ‘I’m not going to let you win, I’m not going to let you get the last laugh.'”

Clearly Kobe Bryant meant a lot to the West Virginia basketball team and has inspired their games forever.