The NBA lost one its biggest stars on Sunday, as Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Marie Bryant was also killed in the crash, along with seven other people.
Bryant, the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, accomplished everything a player could over the course of his 20-year career, winning five NBA championships — two of which he was named Finals MVP in — leading the league in scoring twice, appearing in 18 All-Star games and being named the league MVP in 2008. For a generation of basketball fans, he was the closest thing to Michael Jordan.
Many of those fans play in the NBA today, and those that didn’t grow up admiring him eventually learned to respect him because of his work ethic and pure skill. Bryant wasn’t just a Los Angeles basketball icon — he was and will always be an iconic figure in sports, one whose legacy is immortalized at Staples Center with not one, but two retired jerseys. He’s also expected to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
Some of the most prominent names in the basketball community have taken to Twitter to mourn the death of the Mamba, including Bryant’s former teammates Pau Gasol and Shaquille O’Neal.
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
Beyond devastated... my big brother... I can’t, I just can’t believe it— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 26, 2020
Nooooooooooo God please No!— DWade (@DwyaneWade) January 26, 2020
Man I don’t even know where to start I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!!— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 26, 2020
...This S*** can’t be real... this the first moment I was able to meet Gianna Maria, she’s been to only 3 games this year... 2 of them were mine... She told me I was her favorite player to watch I can’t believe this— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 26, 2020
Rest Easy Gigi❤️ pic.twitter.com/IfDrE9Gjlv
As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/X2vF0M0a1u— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
I’m feeling numb - words can’t describe the impact Kobe has had on the world, LA, and the Lakers - not to mention the influence he had in my life as someone I grew up idolizing. I loved him - and send my condolences to all the families who lost someone today. RIP— Joey Buss (@Jbuss) January 26, 2020
Statement from Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/AqLsRWMxl9— Vincent Goodwill (@VinceGoodwill) January 26, 2020
My heart is broken for Kobe and his family. I’ll never forget the battles but what I really admired was the father he was to his girls. Rest In Peace old friend with your angel Gianna— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) January 26, 2020
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
Whatever it was you did, football, basketball, soccer, acting, whatever. Kobe inspired you to be better...— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) January 26, 2020
I’m numb.— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) January 26, 2020
Jerry West orchestrated the trade for Kobe Bryant and pairing him with Shaq. Here’s what he said today in a statement: pic.twitter.com/N6MAxAm0P9— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) January 26, 2020
Trae Young is wearing No. 8 tonight, instead of his normal No. 11.— Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) January 26, 2020
Other players and teams are taking their tributes to Bryant on the court. The NBA decided against cancelling today’s slate of games.
The inside and outside of Madison Square Garden are lit in purple and gold in honor of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/8jFH2sQ0sQ— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) January 26, 2020
Looks like every player on the Pelicans roster will wear a pair of Kobe’s during the national anthem as a tribute.— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) January 26, 2020
Pelicans’ staffers wheeling in shoes down the hallway right now.
Doesn’t matter if they are Jordan or adidas athletes, will wear for anthem and change after.
Remarkable moment to start the Raptors-Spurs game. pic.twitter.com/thmt9ZU1Ra— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 26, 2020
However, the tributes went beyond the basketball court on Sunday morning.
Za'Darius Smith just gathered up his teammates to put on a post-sack Kobe tribute pic.twitter.com/80p4ZjrfI1— Christian D'Andrea (@TrainIsland) January 26, 2020
After scoring for PSG, Neymar flashed No. 24 to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash. pic.twitter.com/EOrk3cZAUd— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 26, 2020
It’s unclear at this time how the Lakers will pay tribute to the man that devoted 20 years to their organization, but at the very least he’ll be honored before Tuesday night’s game against the LA Clippers. Beyond that, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add a patch to their jerseys the same way they did when Jerry Buss passed away in 2013.
The Lakers and Clippers will tip-off at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday.