Kobe Bryant, an NBA icon who inspired the world over the course of his professional basketball career, died at age 41 in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area Sunday morning. Nine people were believed to be on board, with one of them being Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant.
The group was traveling to one of Gianna Bryant’s basketball games when the crash occurred. It is reported that the deceased include a parent and one of Gianna Bryant's teammates. Vanessa (wife/mother), Natalia (daughter/sister), Bianka (daughter/sister) and 7-month-old Capri (daughter/sister) were not involved in the crash.
The tragedy sent shockwaves through not only the NBA, but also the rest of the world. Many prominent figures have spoken out, including icons like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwyane Wade, Luka Dončić, J.J. Watt, former President Barack Obama and many others as well.
"Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players," Abdul-Jabbar wrote on Twitter. "But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete."
O'Neal was another member of the basketball community who spoke about Bryant's life.
"Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common," O'Neal said. "I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his."
Obama also took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the matter and condolences to the Bryant family.
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," Obama said. "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."
Kobe Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 17-time NBA All-Star, the 2007-08 NBA MVP and sits fourth on the all-time scoring list.
Just hours before Kobe Bryant's death, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers passed him on the all-time scoring list in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant's hometown. James took the time after the game to share with the media many experiences him and Kobe Bryant had shared over the years, along with his thoughts about passing him in scoring.
"It doesn't make sense. Just to make a long story short, now I'm here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he's from. The first time I ever met him, gave me his shoes on All-Star Weekend. It's surreal," James said. "It doesn't make no sense, but the universe just puts things in your life. And I guess when you live in the right way, when you just give it everything to whatever you're doing, things happen organically.
Approximately 16 hours later, Kobe Bryant was reported dead. In the Rockets-Nuggets game Sunday, a moment of silence was held for the "Mamba." In the Raptors-Spurs game, both teams dribbled out the first 24-second shot clock in tribute to Kobe Bryant, who famously wore the number 24 throughout the latter half of his career. Six NBA games are scheduled to be played today, with many more tributes to be expected both tonight and throughout the rest of the season.
Although this news was assuredly shocking and heartbreaking for the basketball community, Kobe Bryant and his daughter's lives extended beyond the realm of the sport. Kobe Bryant was active in his community, his daughter's young basketball career and throughout the NBA world. He coached for Gianna Bryant's basketball team, who was a rising star in her own respect.
What Kobe Bryant leaves behind is not only a career of a number of different accolades and accomplishments, but also an impact on the many lives he was involved with over the course of his playing and post-retirement endeavors.