"He was one of those guys that he would pretty much over extend himself going above and beyond the way he worked and the way he came to practice prepared to work,” said University of Tulsa Assistant Basketball Coach Shea Seals.
Tributes are pouring in for Kobe Bryant after Bryant, his daughter, and seven others were killed in a tragic helicopter crash.
University of Tulsa Assistant Basketball Coach Shea Seals played with Bryant in 1997.
Coach Shea Seals said he always knew Kobe was special - and said his death is a big loss for basketball players and fans everywhere.
"I knew he'd eventually be one of the greatest players that ever played mainly because of the way he approached the game," said Coach Seals.
University of Tulsa Assistant Basketball Coach Shea Seals said they were playing at UConn when he heard the news.
He says he was surprised to hear his former teammate Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and seven others.
Seals says Kobe was an incredible father and mentor to his kids.
"He wanted to be there to be a big part of their lives, and for Gigi to have her life taken as well as Kobe’s so soon, it’s hard to fathom,” said Seals.
Seals played for the Lakers in 1997, Kobe's second season in the NBA.
Seals said he'll always remember playing one-on-one with Kobe for hours before practice.
"We were already drenched in sweat because we'd already been competing for an hour and a half already so I knew how passionate he was about the game of basketball, and it really showed,” said Seals.
Local Tulsa businesses like Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge are also paying tribute to the basketball legend.
"Kobe just embodied that mamba mentality that even though everyone faces hardships in their life, you just have to keep on going no matter what,” said one of Black Wall Street Liquid Lounge Managers, Brooke Chase.
Chase believes this quote from Kobe is a good reminder that Tulsans are stronger than their past.
She said that’s a big reason why their coffee shop is there today, to remind people they can rise above the massacre.
“It’s important to rise above it and make sure things like that don't happen again,” said Chase.
And Seals hopes Kobe’s message of hard work and dedication will resonate with players and people everywhere.
"Just continue to strive to be the best you can be because that's what Kobe was," said Seals.