Watch CBS News

Remembering Kobe: How Bryant Changed Life Of One Former Teammate At Lower Merion High School

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Tickets will be available on Friday for a memorial for Kobe Bryant. It'll take place on Saturday between two games at Lower Merion High School. A former high school teammate is remembering fondly the time they spent together.

So many people who knew Kobe well are sharing their stories about not only the legendary basketball player he became but the early friendships he established with them. One former high school teammate says knowing Kobe changed his life.

"I was on the team his senior year, the year we won the state championship," Emory Dabney said.

Dabney was one of Kobe's former teammates at Lower Merion High School and he remembers that moment like it was yesterday.

He also remembers the moment he heard the devastating news that his friend was gone.

"You just didn't believe it and then when the news broke, you're just heartbroken and shocked," Dabney said.

WATCH: Newly Released Footage Shows 15-Year-Old Kobe Bryant Participating In Slam Dunk Contest In 1994

Dabney sat down with CBS3 on Thursday to talk about a loss that is still soul-crushing for him. He remembers when he first met Kobe, a meeting that led to a lasting friendship.

"I was playing basketball and it was a decision on where to go to school. I met Kobe on the playground and I decided to go to Lower Merion. From that point on, we were really close. He treated me like an older brother," Dabney said.

Even as a teenager, Dabney recalls Kobe having a work ethic like none other, exhibiting the "mamba mentality" that he became known for around the world.

"He was tough. He was loving, but it was tough love. He wanted to get the best out of you. His mentality was you're only as strong as your weakest link," Dabney said.

'I Saw Him Evolve': Philadelphia Legend Sonny Hill Reflects On Special Relationship He Shared With Kobe Bryant

From a fierce player to a loyal friend, Kobe brought out the best in those around him.

"As a friend, he was funny. Always great to be around. Just a great guy, warm. He always made you feel like you were the only person there," Dabney said.

Even in death, Kobe's lasting legacy is bringing a renewed sense of life to those who knew him well.

"Aside from it being incredibly sad, you want to leave a legacy and you want to the people that are around you and loved ones that have helped you get to where you are, you want to make them proud. And that's when Kobe passed, that's what you think about," Dabney said.

Dabney also told a story that he says will always stick with him.

The day after Kobe declared for the NBA, he still came to class at Lower Merion High School just like it was another normal day.

There will be a tribute at the high school for Kobe on Saturday between the girls' and boys' basketball games.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.