EDMONTON -- Whether they cheered for his teams or not, local sports fans and athletes say they're stunned by the death of basketball’s Kobe Bryant on Sunday.  

The NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died when their helicopter crashed in southern California.

“Growing up in our household, basketball was always on and a lot of my fond memories as a kid was (sic) trying to play like Kobe Bryant,” Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse said. “It's very sad.”

“In the early to mid 2000s he might of (sic) been the biggest sports stars in North America at the time,” commented TSN1260 host Dustin Nielson.

“He had five titles. He was with (Shaquille O'Neal) for three of them. They were the biggest thing going. So he's the type of guy that kind of transcends all sports, which is why locally here I think you'll see it'll hit quite a few people.”

The head of Alberta Basketball, Paul Sir, said he never met Kobe Bryant but did see him play several times.

He considered Bryant a great dad and mentor to young people.

"All of our thoughts and prayers go out o the families because if this teaches us anything, it's how no matter how big a star anyone is, we're just still flesh and blood,” Sir said.

“When something like this happens, it shocks all of us to the core of who we are.”

Bryant was 41 years old.

The other victims have not been identified.

The helicopter crash is being investigated.