“We lost Kobe, who was our Michael Jordan,” Lower Merion High’s Demetrius Lilley told the New York Times. “And now we probably lost our season. It’s horrible.”
By Henry Allerton
Lower Merion High was devastated two months ago when its most famous Alum, Kobe Bryant, died along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a southern California helicopter crash.
And now the coronavirus that has halted classes has shocked LMHS again.
“It feels heavy here,” said Doug Young, an assistant basketball coach at Lower Merion and a former teammate of Bryant.
“I’m assuming it feels heavy everywhere,” Young, 42, told the Times. “It’s a little different here.”
“It just feels like a hole in the heart that’s possibly going to be there forever,” coach Gregg Downer (above right with Bryant), 57, said.
Closure, he said, feels more like “therapeutic hope” than reality. Instead, Downer said, there was “just an overall darkness in my life as I try to figure this out.”
“Find something that makes the days seem the same,” Downer said. It is a message to his players and to himself.
Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered the state’s schools shuttered for at least two weeks and all nonessential businesses closed. President Trump has discouraged gatherings of more than 10 people.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where they can play this,” Downer said. “How can you potentially put kids in harm’s way?”
“We’re just trying to stay positive,” James Simples Jr., 17, a senior guard and the team’s leader, told the Times.
Still, he and his teammates were struck by how Bryant’s death devastated their coaches, who had known him personally. Strong men broke down, Simples said. “That was hard to see,” he said.
“I’m learning patience,” Simples said. “Some things are out of your control.”