Los Angeles Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning.
The 41-year-old Bryant had spent his entire 20 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 2016. In those years he led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA finals and was a two-time NBA finals MVP, an eighteen-time NBA All-star, two-time gold medal Olympian, and has won the 2008 MVP award. He was also considered a shoo-in for the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
Outside of basketball, Bryant helped influence both Los Angeles and California through his many charitable causes. He helped many youths and families stay out of poverty through the Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant Foundation. More recently, Bryant was a large donor and advocate for fighting homelessness through organizations ranging from the United Way to My Friend’s Place.
Prominent athletes, friends, and fellow Californians expressed shock and gave out heartfelt condolences throughout Sunday.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother,” tweeted former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. “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.”
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
Former Laker star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also tweeted out condolences, saying “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
Outside the world of sports, politicians and lawmakers from both parties threw politics aside for a universal mourning of the Laker legend.
“We mourn the tragic and untimely death of a California icon and basketball legend, Kobe Bryant,” said Governor Gavin Newsom and his partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom in a statement. “In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he made history with raw talent and unparalleled dedication that raised the bar and paved the way for a newer generation of players.
Our deepest condolences go to his wife, family, colleagues, friends and fans. He was taken too soon and he will be missed.”
While Bryant’s life had occasionally been tumultuous, such as with a 2004 sexual assault allegation in Colorado, Bryant’s career had largely been celebrated due to his skill and ability on the court and his focus on the family and charity-mindfulness off the court.
News conferences from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Kobe Bryant’s family are expected later on Sunday and Monday.
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