Kobe remembered in WNY

Those who knew Bryant speak with WBEN

Fans gather at L.A. Live in Los Angeles to pay their respects to former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant who died in helicopter crash on Sunday

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - Kobe Bryant's death is being felt by many across Western New York, but especially by those who knew him personally. 

Bryan Wittman is a former Vice President in the Disney Corporation, and was a neighbor of Bryant while he lived in California. 

Now residing in Western New York, Wittman cherishes the times he spent with someone he considers a friend.

"It's a terrible loss, terrible tragedy," Wittman told WBEN. "As much as he was amazing as an athlete, he was an amazing human being."

"His sights were always set on other things, and it really revolved around his family... He was bigger than life, but he never had an ego for that. He really was just a kid from Philadelphia playing basketball."

Bernie Tolbert was the Vice President of Security for the NBA during a portion of Bryant's career, and now resides in Buffalo.

"I just couldn't believe that, I was absolutely devastated," Tolbert said. 

Tolbert said Kobe was a different type of superstar, one that made sure those around him felt appreciated. He recalled one story from working with Kobe during the 2008 Olympics.

"He was very approachable," Tolbert said. "As a matter of fact, one day his personal security guy came to me and gave me a sweatsuit. I never took anything from players because of my relationship with my job, but his security guy came up to me and said 'Kobe wants you to have this.' It was a pair of autographed sneakers and a sweatsuit, because he appreciated what I had done. It was a relationship that I will always remember."

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