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Kobe superfan shares moments with legend

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 21:23:34-05

San Diego (KGTV)- As fans around the world continue to mourn the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, one San Diego super fan says he is in disbelief. But, he is now cherishing the moments he was able to interact with Bryant.

Willy Gloria says he's been a Kobe Bryant fan since the player was drafted to the Lakers.

"I remember the happiness he brought in my life," says Gloria.

The superfan says the first he met Bryant was at an exhibition game in San Diego during the player's rookie years.

"I was the first person he saw because I was the first person there," says Gloria. "He gave me a handshake. My cousin was able to take a photo of Kobe with a box camera."

This past September, Gloria and his family met Bryant at his book signing in Newport Beach. "I told him that I named my son after him. He was like, oh man, that's beautiful."


After the signing, the two shared a moment as proud dads. "He wanted to make sure; it was his duty as a dad with him having four girls, is to make sure that women succeed and have opportunities."

Gloria says it hasn't fully hit him that Bryant is gone.

USD Associate Professor, Bradley Bond, says grieving for the star is a normal reaction. Bradley studies parasocial relationships, which is the idea that people develop emotional ties to celebrities and media characters.

"It's a perfectly normal feeling because a part of human survival is being attached to other people," says Bond.

He also says those ties seem to grow stronger with social media. "When you get those blips on social media of their family, of their experiences, and coaching his daughter's basketball team, you start to feel like you know that person."

For superfan, Willy Gloria, he says the one word to describe his favorite player is "amazing."