The death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday shook the world to its core.
Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.
Nine people died in the crash that killed Bryant including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and her basketball teammate.
A five-time NBA champion, Bryant played for the LA Lakers through his career spanning two decades.
Bryant’s death triggered the outpouring of grief from world leaders, fellow stars including celebrities.
Bryant’s former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal led tributes on Twitter expressing sadness at his sudden death.
“I’m sick right now,” he wrote.
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
“Words can’t describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much,” Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan said in a statement.
“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball,” Jordan added.
Golf legend Tiger Woods said: “It’s an unbelievable reality that he’s no longer here.”
Arn Tellem, Bryant’s former agent and now the Detroit Pistons’ vice chairman said “Kobe Bryant was far and away the greatest athlete I had the privilege of representing during my 35 years as a player agent. And I represented many great athletes.”
“He had a fearsome intellectual curiosity and his enthusiasm was contagious. The glint in his eyes wasn’t just joy: It was sparks from a fire that couldn’t be tamped down. To him, anything less than the best was failure,” Tellem, who knew Bryant since he was a 17-year-old senior at Lower Merion High on Philadelphia’s Main Line, added.
Tellem continued that: “Kobe’s death is especially wrenching knowing what he was capable of, and what he might have accomplished in his post NBA life. He was already well on his way, continuing to have such an impactful life.”
“Shocked by the death of @kobebryant, an exemplary athlete both on and off the basketball court. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace,” FC Barcelona football club said via Twitter.
“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor said via Twitter.
Rest in Peace, Mamba. pic.twitter.com/BgcDnXLCyZ— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) January 26, 2020
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement said 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.”
Former President Barack Obama via Twitter described Bryant as 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.”
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.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
“This has hit me hard. Thinking of all his family, friends and colleagues,” three-time tennis Grand Slam winner Andy Murray said on Instagram.
“Oh no. How awful. One of the greatest sportsmen of our lifetime. Utterly tragic”, former England soccer great Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter.