SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Patrick Mendoza re-lives through photos of a time never forgotten: the day he met a living legend.
“As a Make-A-Wish kid, I wanted to meet Kobe. I was a huge Laker fan back in the day,” Mendoza said. “I’m going to be honest with you, I was star-struck. I was only nine years old at the time. When I got to the stadium, the arena, I was excited. I was watching the Lakers play. I was watching Kobe play.”
Patrick met Kobe in Los Angeles after having surgery to fix a heart condition that restricted blood flow. He told CBS13 he acted like many kids meeting their idols — in pure shock.
“I wish I had the confidence and the mentality to speak more to him because I was a shy kid. I couldn’t believe; I was star-struck,” Mendoza said.
That shock hit him again when Patrick opened up Twitter on Sunday morning.
“It kept saying, ‘Kobe died in a helicopter crash at age 41,’ and it kept going all the way down my feed. And at that moment, it felt like I was numb,” Mendoza said.
While Patrick felt numb, his father wondered what Bryant went through at that moment as a father.
“I can’t imagine what Kobe is doing to his daughter. Is he hugging her or something?” Ferdie Mendoza said. “It’s got to be really, really being hard for being a father. I think it’s going to be the same thing for all the fathers.”
Heroes come and go but legends never die. Patrick hopes people take how Kobe played the game to heart and live by it forever.
“The main thing that he focused on was that having that mentality of to keep going forward; just keep pushing through no matter what,” Mendoza said.
Over the years Kobe issued five wishes to kids in the area, three in Sacramento and two in Stockton.