Former Laker and basketball legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter accident on Sunday morning, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Kobe and Gianna were allegedly headed to The Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice when Bryant’s private helicopter crashed. There were allegedly at least three other people onboard and no one survived the crash. Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three young daughters.
There has been an outpouring of grief and support on social media, with celebrities, athletes, and fans alike offering up their sadness over this untimely passing.
Former Chicago Bull and NBA superstar Michael Jordan released a statement about Bryant’s death. Jordan and Bryant faced off on the court many times and were good-natured rivals.
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.
“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neil also tweeted out his sorrow, having known and played with Bryant for years.
“There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW”
He continued, expressing his admiration for Bryant as a man even more than an athlete.
“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
The NBA is in mourning over this loss, with many teams taking moments of silence before their games to remember Bryant and his impact.
“Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete.”
The New Orleans Pelicans held a 24-second moment of silence for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna before today's game against the Boston Celtics ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Q87Pf2D48E
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 26, 2020