On Sunday, January 26 the world lost a friend. NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others. Tributes to Bryant and his daughter have poured in since news of the tragedy.
Throughout Bryant’s 20 year career, all of which was spent with the Los Angeles Lakers, he won five NBA championships and was selected for the NBA all-star game 18 times in a row. He scored 33,643 points during his career and is ranked fourth for regular season points. Bryant also won two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.
Gianna Maria Bryant was 13 years old, and the second-oldest of Bryant’s four daughters. She was a passionate basketball player, with goals to play at the University of Connecticut and in the WNBA. Kobe Bryant saw Gianna as the heir to his legacy, he made sure he was involved in her development by coaching her basketball team. She was honored at UConn’s basketball game on Monday.
Tributes to the two poured in throughout Sunday. Outside the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, fans gathered to mourn the loss of the star. The Grammy’s, held at the Staples Center on Sunday, gave a special tribute to Bryant while also honoring the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
NBA games held on Sunday also paid tribute to Bryant. Teams took eight and 24 second violations at the beginning of games to honor Bryant’s numbers that he wore throughout his career. Atlanta Hawks star, Trae Young, wore the number eight on his jersey during his game on Sunday, and Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans wrote on his shoes as a tribute.
Reactions about the loss of Kobe and Gianna Bryant have poured in. Here are some statements:
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”Former President Barack Obama
“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…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.”Shaquille O’Neal
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.”Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner
This is a tough loss for sports and the rest of the world. Kobe Bryant was a household name whether you avidly watched basketball or not. The loss of Kobe and Gianna Bryant was more than losing a basketball player, it was like loosing a friend and a mentor.