An incomprehensible tragedy has shaken the sports world to its core.
Early Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed after Bryant’s private helicopter crashed. Details on the crash itself are scarce, but it has been reported that Bryant was on his way to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball practice. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli has also been identified as having tragically lost his life.
Update: At an official news conference, the L.A. County sheriff said that nine people were in the helicopter. Original reports said five were killed, but now it appears as if nine (one pilot, eight passengers) all perished.
Bryant is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. He won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, not to mention his 18 All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, 9 All-NBA First Team defense nominations, and a host of other accomplishments through his 20 seasons as a professional. It was only one day ago that current Lakers star LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third all-time on the NBA’s scoring list, and did so in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia.
Whether you loved or hated Kobe, loved or hated the Lakers, or don’t really care about NBA basketball, there is no denying his place in sports history and in American culture.
There have been an outpouring of tributes, prayers, and condolences from athletes, coaches, and figures across all sports and throughout the world. Many current and former Seattle Seahawks mourned the loss of a truly iconic sporting figure.
Our hearts are heavy to learn about the tragedy involving one of the greatest competitors of all-time, Kobe Bryant.— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 26, 2020
Rest in Peace to all the lives the world lost too early in California today. pic.twitter.com/ohejZTBm0G
Unfortunate news out of California today.— WALTER JONES (@BigWalt71) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant has passed. My condolences to his family.
Never Take Life For Granted— Douglas Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) January 26, 2020
R.I.P. Legend pic.twitter.com/dads2XUIDJ
To this day, whether I’m shooting a basketball or a piece of paper in the trash I still say to myself “KOBE.” He was a legend in every way a man could be. Words can’t describe the emptiness I feel after hearing the news today. RIP. #Mamba #Kobe— Robert “Turbo” Turbin (@RobertJTurbin) January 26, 2020
I’m just so sad and hurt— Tyler Lockett (@TDLockett12) January 26, 2020
Bruh I’m real life hurt.— Rashaad Penny (@pennyhendrixx) January 26, 2020
Doesn’t even seem real or believable.. So sad— Ugo Amadi (@UAmadi7_) January 26, 2020
This one truly hurt my heart.. RIP Kobe..— Nino (@qdiggs6) January 26, 2020
No— Germain Ifedi (@GermainX1) January 26, 2020
No way Kobe died— Phil Haynes (@PhilHaynes95) January 26, 2020
I am truly hurt— DK Metcalf (@dkm14) January 26, 2020
I’m sick to my stomach yo.....this can’t be real— Duane Brown (@DuaneBrown76) January 26, 2020
RIP to a legend Kobe Bryant— Chris Carson (@ccarson_32) January 26, 2020
At the 2020 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Packers defensive end Za’Darius Smith told ESPN’s Lisa Salters that Russell Wilson gathered the NFC players together to say a prayer for Bryant’s family shortly before kickoff.
Kobe Bryant was just 41 years old. He is survived by his wife Vanessa, his three other daughters Natalia, Bianca, and Capri.