In the days following the horrific news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, there were persistent rumors that Kobe’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, would wait for his wife Vanessa to take the lead before publicly commenting on the tragic events.
On Tuesday, Vanessa took to Instagram to offer a powerful remembrance of her late husband and daughter, as well as information on how supporters could help the families of the others who perished in the crash. Soon after, the Lakers followed her example, posting a photo of Kobe and Gianna, some heartfelt words about their loss, and directing fans to the fund Vanessa and the Bryant family set up for the others affected by the crash:
We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 30, 2020
The Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to support the families affected by this tragedy. To help, please visit https://t.co/e4Je5ORGC2. For those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit https://t.co/KsaefpUNGf— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 30, 2020
The Lakers also made some changes to their profile following the statement, altering their avatar to a muted, black version of their logo, as well as making a picture of Bryant their profile header:
They've also made some changes to their profile pic.twitter.com/4HqeqUKynb— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 30, 2020
The support from other sports organizations in the wake of all this has been staggering to watch, and it continued in response to the Lakers’ statement:
January 30, 2020
The Lakers’ replies also weren’t the only place where tributes to Kobe and Gianna continued to pour in. The Brooklyn Nets left two open seats with flowers in them where the two had watched a game earlier in that building, while the Anaheim Ducks posted photos remembering all the victims at their game last night, and the Sacramento Kings posted a tribute video to their longtime rival and his daughter:
Rivalries come and go, but legends never die.— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 30, 2020
For Kobe & Gianna pic.twitter.com/yYUZ5Syz09
These are far from the only gestures teams and individuals have made, and it really has been amazing to watch the sports community come together in the wake of all this. While we’d obviously wish it was for better reasons, it’s yet another example of the powerful ability of sports to bring us all together and rally around a common cause.
It’s almost impossible to imagine what the Lakers themselves are going through right now, especially long-time employees of the organization who watched Kobe and Gianna grow up, and so it’s been touching to see how widespread the support for them, the Bryant family and the other families affected by this tragedy has been.
If you’re struggling yourself, talk to someone, and if you want to help, you can do so here.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.