Stefon Diggs has long been a self-proclaimed "Kobe guy".
Like many athletes in the sports world today the Vikings wide receiver grew up idolizing the 20-year career of Bryant in the NBA and the dynasty of the Los Angeles Lakers as a child.
The news of the NBA star passing in a helicopter crash (which also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter and seven others) hit home for Diggs and his family.
"I grew up a Laker fan, my dad liked the Lakers and we used to watch it on the big screen" Diggs said when he joined "First Things First" on FOX Sports on Tuesday morning. "He never let you down. Kobe was like a killer. When there was an opportunity there, he was going in. When there was blood in the water he was going in and you knew every time he was going to hit the shot."
Diggs tragically lost his father when a teenager and helped his mother raise his younger brothers Trevon and Darez who both play college football at the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama Birmingham respectively.
Bryant was famously known for waking up early in the morning to work on his craft to gain an edge on his competition. The shooting guard amassed 33,643 total points good for 4th on the all-time scoring list and won 5 NBA championships during his two decades playing for Los Angeles.
"To kind of hear when I was a player and to grow up and you kind of hear the background of him waking up at 4 A.M. and 3 A.M. to work out and him putting a lot of effort in and consistency into his game it motivates you and inspires you still right now," Diggs said.
Diggs has long used Kobe as motivation. As a fifth-round draft pick in 2015 Diggs fought for a spot on the Vikings roster and has become one of the franchises best wide receivers through his first five seasons in Minnesota.
He even paid tribute his hero in a game where the Vikings clinched the NFC North in 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals at U.S. Bank Stadium. Diggs worked with custom cleat designer Mache on cleats that honored Bryant the week his number was retired by the Lakers and even paid tribute to Kobe with his patented fade-away jump shot celebration after scoring a touchdown in the game.
"At such a tragic time you think to yourself that he wouldn't want you to be sad," Diggs said. "He would want you to be happy and kind of continue to push, continue to grow as people as men.
"As an athlete and as a competitor I love Kobe," Diggs added. "I was a 'Kobe guy'. As a kid when you grow up on somebody and you lose them, I never had nothing like that. I haven't felt that way about losing someone since my dad. To lose Kobe and to lose somebody that we love so much it was definitely a hard time and it's kind of sad. I'm kind of shaken a little bit."
Below is the reaction of the rest of the Vikings players of the course of the past few days as they felt the impact of the passing of the Lakers legend: