Coco Gauff paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant at the Australian Open by customizing her shoes. The 15-year-old tennis star wrote a message about Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and seven other people. Gauff, who was playing alongside 18-year old Caty McNally in the third round of the women's doubles tournament, used a permanent marker to write No. 24 and No. 8, as well as "RIP Kobe" and "Mamba Mentality," on her pink New Balance tennis shoes. She posted a photo of the shoes on her Instagram account.
"When we heard the news, we were both heartbroken. We both looked up to him," Gauff said after the match via Essentially Sports. "Even speaking about it right now is a bit emotional. We had to do something for him and I know he's looking down on us right now."
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Gauff and McNally won the match, which they dedicated to Bryant. Gauff also reflected on a time where Bryant sent her signed book and wrote her a message.
"Dream it, then live to make the dream even greater," he wrote.
"It's so cool and I can't wait to read it," Gauff said.
Gauff wasn't the only tennis star to share thoughts on the death of Bryant.
"What can I say, I woke up this morning with this terrible news," Rafael Nadal said in an on-court interview. "It's super sad. He was one of the greatest sportsmen in history. He deserves a big round of applause.
"It's one of these days that you want to forget but of course Kobe Bryant will be in our hearts and in our minds for the rest of our lives."0comments
"My heart truly mourns over the news today," Novak Djokovic wrote. "Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me. You and your daughter will live forever in our hearts. There are not enough words to express my deepest sympathies to the Bryants and every family suffering from this tragedy. RIP my friend."
Bryant's impact was felt all over the world. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2016 and he helped the team win five NBA championships. He also won the MVP award in 2008 and was named to the All-NBA First Team 11 times.