Reports on Sunday morning said that former Los Angeles Lakers superstar, Kobe Bryant, died after the helicopter he was aboard crashed in Calabasas, California.
The cause of the crash has not yet been determined as investigators are finding it hard to access the hillside region where the crash happened. His 13-year old daughter, Gianna Bryant, as well as seven others, were also part of those killed in the crash. They were headed to his Mamba Sports Academy.
News of his death sent shockwaves around the basketball world and the world at large. Kobe was an extraordinary player who spent the last 20 years of career playing for the Lakers, where he gained over 33,000 career points. He also became the youngest player, at age 34, to clock 30,000 career points. His death came 4 days after the 14 anniversary of his 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
Kobe, who retired in 2016, was the most valuable player in the NBA in 2008 and won the NBA championship title with his team five times, including three consecutive times between 2000-2002. He was also part of the NBA team that won gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Kobe, who was 41, was a candidate for the NBA Hall of Fame this year before the terrible event. He dubbed himself “The Black Mamba” due to his shot accuracy, just like the snake of the same name. Kobe Bryant also won an Academy Award for best short film, for his short film called ‘Dear Basketball”.
Reactions have continued to pour out as celebrities, both in the Basketball world and beyond, find it hard to accept the reality that Bryant is gone. Michael Jordan, another NBA legend, expressed his shock at hearing the news, describing Kobe as “a little brother” and an amazing dad. Magic Johnson tweeted, “I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning…”, after hearing the demise of Kobe and Gianna.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement expressing his condolence, stating, “the NBA family is devastated.” Former President, Barack Obama, also joins those extending his condolences to the Bryant family, describing Kobe as “a legend on the court.” A tearful Lebron James was seen strolling, with people hugging him. He and Kobe had a strong bond, with James joining the Lakers after Kobe left.
Indeed Kobe set a legacy that cannot be erased by time or any other factor. He made the NBA big, bringing in so many new fans into the game. His love for the game led him to open the Mamba Academy, a place for youngsters to learn and play the game. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three kids.
Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna. Mamba Out!