5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Thank you, Kobe!

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(CNN Philippines) — Dear Kobe, I still can’t process what just happened in the last few hours.

I woke up just to go to the bathroom, then when I checked my phone, I saw the reports that you and your daughter are gone after the helicopter that you were in riding crashed — I stopped for a couple of minutes convincing myself that it’s fake news or I’m just dreaming, but it’s real and it hit me hard.

The first time I watched you play in the NBA was the year you won your first championship. I told myself that there’s something about this guy that will make him a superstar in the league, and boy I was right.

I always tell the people who ask me, that you and Shaq are arguably the best duo in NBA history and I will always stand by that statement.

I’m not the biggest Lakers fan but I learned to cheer for your team because of your tenacity, passion, and drive to succeed.

Watching you through the years taught me to always give my best and never settle for less.

Amid the criticisms, controversies, and injuries, you undeniably gave your heart to the game.

And of course, how could I not mention the Mamba Mentality? This, I think, separates you from your peers. You continue inspiring young kids to reach for the stars, to dream big, and change the world through whatever it is that they’re doing.

Five titles, 81 points, two Finals MVP awards, 18 All-Star selections, two Olympic gold medals, Oscar winner. These are some of the things that people will remember you. But for me, I will remember you for teaching us that in basketball and in life — what you do after your downfall will define you in the end.

Lastly, I will always be that kid who’ll throw a crumpled paper to the trash bin shouting your name with 5..4..3..2..1 on the clock.

Ciao, Mamba.