Former Laker and basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died on Sunday in a devastating helicopter crash. They were headed in Bryant’s private helicopter for basketball practice at The Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks when the crash occurred. There were at least three other people on board and no one survived the accident.
Bryant was beloved in Los Angeles after playing for the Lakers for years, and there were tons of stories on social media of memorials popping up all over the city.
Bought flowers to bring to staples center. When the florist saw that I wanted purple and yellow she asked, “for Kobe?” I nodded. When she finished I asked what I owed her. she shook her head, handed me the flowers and said “it’s LA”. I almost cried. LAs love for Kobe is powerful
— Zach Schwartz (@zachzachzach) January 26, 2020
Former President Barack Obama addressed the tragedy on Twitter, remembering Bryant’s impact and mourning the loss of Gianna as well. He tweeted on behalf of himself and Michelle, expressing their sadness at this devastating turn of events:
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
During his presidency, Obama and Bryant met several times and worked on some charity projects together. They mutually admired each other’s impact on society, and Bryant spoke about his admiration for Obama back in 2017, explaining that the president opened up new avenues for change that were previously out of reach.
“Obama didn’t inspire someone like Colin Kaepernick [former San Francisco 49ers quarterback]. But he did help athletes progress beyond just asking questions or just being angry, and asking why something is the way it is. Like what’s the constitutional reason behind something and what can be changed.”
Bryant continued, explaining that Obama helped raise the bar for being politically minded.
“He made locker rooms more politically aware. Conversations changed. Obviously, now with the violence we’re seeing across the country, that’s something athletes are understanding more and more. He was rare. We all miss him to a certain extent.”
Bryant will surely be missed, and his legacy will live on for decades to come. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his three other daughters.