The key players in Super Bowl LIV expressed their admiration for Kobe Bryant at Opening Night on Monday, a day after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died in a helicopter crash.
A moment of silence was held for Bryant at Marlins Park in Miami, where players from both the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs spoke about the NBA great.
The 18-time All Star was killed, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others on Sunday, shortly before the Niners and Chiefs arrived in Miami.
Here is what some of the leading Chiefs and 49ers players said about Bryant's death.
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs quarterback): "I wasn't lucky enough to get to meet Kobe. But the impact that he made in my life, it was huge. The way he was able to go about every single day and the work ethic and the intensity that he had to be great every single day. Even to this day, I still watch videos on YouTube the day before games."
George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers tight end): "Other than my parents, he was the reason I played sports. Just his mindset, the 'Mamba mentality'. I wore the number 24 in high school, my freshman, sophomore year, because of him. I wore Kobe Bryant basketball shoes because of Kobe Bryant. Every time I laced up my basketball shoes, I felt like I had Kobe Bryant with me. I had a little part of him."
A legend gone too soon.— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 26, 2020
With heavy hearts we send our condolences to the Bryant Family after the tragic loss of Kobe & Gianna. Prayers for all the families who lost a loved one #RIPMamba pic.twitter.com/i8U5936UuC
Richard Sherman (San Francisco 49ers cornerback): "There's not enough words in my vernacular, in my vocabulary, to give him the praise and the respect that he deserves. But he deserves every inch, every ounce of respect, every ounce of gratitude. He gave me a ton of inspiration and I'm sure he inspired millions and millions and trillions of other kids."
Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs tight end): "I had an opportunity to meet Kobe and he's just an unbelievable person. You can't say enough about who he was and his impact and with that, I just feel bad for the Bryant family, everybody involved out there on the west coast. My heart's with you as well as everyone here in America."
Frank Clark (Kansas City Chiefs defensive end): "The one person I looked to for inspiration and all my strength growing up when I was going through the things I was going through was Kobe Bryant. He was a successful guy and that's the one thing you look to. You look at the gangs and you look at the drug dealers and then you look at the guys who are successful."
Tyrann Mathieu (Kansas City Chiefs safety): "His will to win was nothing I'd ever seen before. I thought I practiced hard but going through YouTube videos and watching Kobe at practice, he was in a complete different element."
Dante Pettis (San Francisco 49ers wide receiver): "The way he attacked life, there was nothing Kobe couldn’t defeat. He was a hero. A hero in general. In everything he did. It wasn't just sports. He wasn't just a basketball player. Everything he did, he gave 100 percent. That's something I'd like to be able to do. I wanted to live like him."
Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers quarterback): "We were actually on the plane ride in, and someone told me in the seat behind me. Honestly, I didn't even believe it. It didn't register at first. Just so sudden and everything like that. It's hard to accept but just a terrible, terrible tragedy."
|On this day in sport: Solskjaer lands Man Utd job, Colts head to Indy|
|Coronavirus: Packers QB Rodgers describes frantic journey out of Peru|
|Coronavirus: New Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins makes Arizona donation|
|´I´m better than average!´ – Melvin Gordon vows to prove doubters wrong with Denver Broncos|
|Todd Gurley on LA Rams release: ´I didn´t see it coming´|
|Brockers returning to LA Rams after Ravens move falls through|
|On this day in sport: Scotland make history, record-crowd watches Jordan inspire Bulls|
|Arians: Antonio Brown not a fit for the Buccaneers|
|Suh stays in Tampa Bay to team up with Bucs´ Brady|
|Patriots made mistake letting Tom Brady leave, says Montana|
|Coronavirus: Saintly gesture - Drew Brees gives $5m to help Louisiana|
|Coronavirus: Athletes facing career-ending situation – World Players executive Schwab|
|Brady can make every throw – Bucs coach Arians backs legendary QB|
|Devin McCourty on life after Tom Brady for the Pats: It´s about winning games|
|NFL What Ifs: What if the Miami Dolphins had signed Drew Brees?|
|Ndamukong Suh reportedly returning to Bucs|
|Los Angeles or bust - Chargers represent Cam Newton´s only chance to start|
|Mariota acknowledges back-up role to Carr at the Raiders|
|Coronavirus: Commissioner Goodell tells NFL teams to close facilities|
|Panthers release Cam Newton|
|Tom Brady ´not signed for his past´, as Bucs hope he will ´define franchise for years´|
|Bucs ´never really dreamed´ Tom Brady would be available, reveals Bruce Arians|
|Tom Brady unwilling to discuss past as he prepares for life after New England|
|People are ´already burying´ the Patriots without Tom Brady, says McCourty|
|‘Glad he is in the NFC!’ - Devin McCourty praises Tom Brady after Bucs move|
|On this day in sport: Australia caught ball tampering, Gronk calls it a career|
|Gostkowski follows Brady out of New England after Patriots release kicker|
|Cowboys center Frederick announces retirement|
|NFL What Ifs: What if the Browns, Bears, 49ers or Jaguars drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017?|
|Mike Evans elated with new Bucs QB: I´m drinking, I got Tom Brady!|
|Darius Slay to wear 24 after Eagles trade in tribute to ´GOAT´ Kobe Bryant|
|NFL free agency: Gordon & Gurley out to reverse decline at new homes|
|New Orleans Saints confirm two-year deal for WR Emmanuel Sanders|
|Coronavirus: Premier League, NBA, F1 – when are suspended competitions aiming to return?|
|Coronavirus: Redskins´ FedEx Field to host community testing site|
|Robert Kraft thanks Tom Brady, tells Tampa Bay ´you got a great one´|
|´New Orleans is family´ – Jenkins returns to Saints|
|Philip Rivers considered retirement before signing with Colts: It just all worked out|
|Jameis Winston bids Tampa Bay farewell: See you at the Super Bowl!|
|NFL free agency Winners & Losers: Improvements in Indy, Bucs wrong to bet on Brady|
|Gronk makes energetic Smackdown debut behind closed doors|
|Emmanuel Sanders agrees deal with Saints – report|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Godwin prepared to hand number 12 to quarterback|
|Melvin Gordon stays in AFC West with Denver Broncos move|
|Coronavirus: A Messi movie, NBA & NFL re-runs - these freebies could be for you|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Arians ´different end of the spectrum´ to Belichick, says Roethlisberger|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: How do the Patriots replace the greatest ever?|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Tampa Bay coach Arians eyes Super Bowl with star QB|
|Todd Gurley joins Atlanta Falcons on one-year deal after Rams release|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Are Tampa Bay now Super Bowl contenders?|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Patriots great arrives, but how did Tampa Bay get here?|
|Tom Brady to Bucs: Winners and losers from quarterback´s move to Tampa Bay|
|NFL great Tom Brady confirms he will join Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Broncos release QB Flacco after just one season|
|Coronavirus: Saints coach Sean Payton reveals positive test|
|Todd Gurley reacts to Rams release: I got fired on my day off!|
|Rams release star running back Todd Gurley|
|Coronavirus: 49ers pledge support to San Francisco community|
|NFL free-agency round-up: Nick Foles traded to Chicago Bears|
|DeAndre Hopkins: Claims against Bill O´Brien ´blown out of proportion´|
|Steelers place Shazier on reserve/retired list|
|Drew Brees agrees to two-year deal with Saints – report|
|Tom Brady to join Tampa Bay Buccaneers – reports|
|NFL free-agency round-up: Witten, Beasley among those to find new teams|
|Tom Brady leaves Patriots: NFL players, LeBron James & The Rock react to news|
|Colts reportedly sign Philip Rivers to one-year, $25m contract|
|Panthers finalising deal with Bridgewater after Newton put on trade block|
|Tom Brady leaves Patriots: Bucs? Chargers? 49ers? Where next for QB?|
|Cam Newton fires back at Panthers, ´never asked´ for trade|
|Panthers give Cam Newton permission to seek trade|