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Following the sudden news that former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, athletes, stars and politicians are reacting in droves on social media with shock and sadness.
The 41-year-old sports icon and Oscar winner was flying near Calabasas, California, in a helicopter when it crashed and erupted into flames, starting a small brush fire. Eight others died on board, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, broke her silence on Wednesday, thanking those who reached out to offer their love, support and prayers, which she said were needed during this “horrific” time.
“We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri,” Vanessa Bryant wrote in part. “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star selection, led the Lakers in points, games played, three-pointers, steals and free throws. He was the No. 4 scorer in NBA history, having been recently passed by LeBron James.
In 2019, Kobe Bryant won the best animated short Oscar for his autobiographical film Dear Basketball, which he wrote, executive produced and also lent his voice to. The film is based on a letter he wrote to Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune in 2015 that announced his retirement from basketball.
Derek Jeter published a tribute to Kobe Bryant on The Players’ Tribune Sunday evening. “All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had — they were always about family,” Jeter wrote. “Put aside one of the all-time great basketball careers for a second. Put aside his famous work ethic, the Mamba mentality, that incredible will to win. I’ll let everyone else tackle that. But when I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter. I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn’t really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family — he was his family. That’s what was important. And that’s the Kobe I’ll remember.”
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”
“We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant,” the National Basketball Players Association said in a statement. “Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family.”
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling,” Michael Jordan said in a statement released by his manager. “I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much. 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. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”
Longtime Lakers fan Jack Nicholson spoke with KCBS’ Jim Hill about the loss of the famed player. “My reaction is the same as almost all of L.A. … where everything was solid there’s a big hole in the wall,” Nicholson said, adding that he will remember Bryant’s “totality” and “just how great a player he was.”
“You know I teased him the first time we met. It was in the Garden in New York and I offered him a basketball and asked him, did he want me to autograph it for him. He looked at me like I was crazy,” Nicholson continued. “We’ll think of him all the time and we’ll miss him. He was just one of those touched people.”
“Along with millions of athletes and fans throughout the world, we are devastated by today’s tragic news,” Nike said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies to those closest to Kobe, especially his family and friends. He was one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has had an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball. He was a beloved member of the Nike family. We will miss him greatly. Mamba forever.”
“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,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief.”
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers told a press conference ahead of his game on Sunday, “This is a great loss for the league and I thought he had so much more left to do, and he was starting to do it. I’ve never seen him happier.” Tearing up, he added, “We’re all Lakers today.”
“They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong,” the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said on its Instagram. “They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar. Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace.”
On ESPN2, director Spike Lee, who made the 2009 documentary Kobe Doin’ Work, said, “I’m shocked like everybody else … oh my God.”
After taking to social media, Shaquille O’Neal spoke out further on The Big Podcast With Shaq, where the NBA legend said, “I’m not doing well. I’m sick.” Adding, “We still are the best duo ever created. That’s never going to change. I have a little brother, but I really lost a brother yesterday.”
And LeBron James broke his silence on social media on Monday to say, “I’m not ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! . Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life #Gigi4Life.”
The late-night hosts, meanwhile, teared up while remembering Kobe Bryant on Monday night, including Jimmy Kimmel, who dedicated his entire show to paying tribute to the late Lakers star. “That was a punch in the gut for many of us,” said the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host at the top of the hour. “Kobe was — and I know this might not make sense — but he was just the last person you could have ever imagined something like this happening to. He was so strong and handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero.”
Beyoncé, who had a longtime friendship with Kobe Bryant, with the Lakers star even appearing in Destiny’s Child’s “Bug-A-Boo” music video, remembered Kobe Bryant on Instagram on Wednesday, writing, “I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe.” She also posted separate photos of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, on Instagram, without comment.
Read some notable posts as they continue to pour in below.
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
Kobe and Gianna may your souls and the souls of the others who were with you Rest In Peace. My condolences and prayers go out to Kobe’s wife Vanessa, his daughters and the Bryant Family. I Love You Kobe and will miss you dearly.
— Rick Fox (@RickFox) January 27, 2020
Kobe was truly larger than life, a legend. May he and all those who lost their lives today rest in peace. Love and condolences to his family. LA will never be the same.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) January 26, 2020
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
Kobe, We love you brother
We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave pic.twitter.com/pxbgLOOmpY
— ye (@kanyewest) January 26, 2020
My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It’s hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players. pic.twitter.com/NXsrXmCkkG
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
This is heartbreaking. Rest In Peace Kobe.
— Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe! My thoughts and prayers are wirh your family.
— octavia spencer (@octaviaspencer) January 26, 2020
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) January 26, 2020
Gutted to hear about Kobe’s helicopter crash. Just terrible. I’m not a sports fan, but I do know that Kobe was incredibly nice to me, and was like a kid in a candy store at the Oscars when his film won. Love to his family. RIP. pic.twitter.com/i9c4QHXKls
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) January 26, 2020
I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) January 26, 2020
I feel like I lost a brother…. this is unbelievable. Kobe isn’t just my favorite player in the NBA he’s my favorite ATHLETE of all time… I seriously can NOT believe this… my heart breaks for his wife and daughters #TeamDL #goat #Kobe #KobeBryant #mambamentality #mamba #rip pic.twitter.com/FB1uqpMXrl
— DL Hughley (@RealDLHughley) January 26, 2020
This breaks my heart. Thinking about Kobe’s wife and children. Including his new baby. https://t.co/4U9nGoIalM
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) January 26, 2020
Shocked and saddened to hear about Kobe Bryant. To us in Philly he was one of ours. His loss will be felt throughout the city. #ripkobe
— M. Night Shyamalan (@MNightShyamalan) January 26, 2020
He was great,charismatic & among the hardest-working athletes ever,but what impressed me most was how deeply-involved Kobe was with his 4 daughters. Pray for them, Vanessa, his parents & his fellow passengers’ families on this sad and shocking day. We will never forget you Kobe
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) January 26, 2020
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) January 26, 2020
I’m literally shocked. Sending prayers and love to Kobe’s family, especially Vanessa and their four daughters.
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) January 26, 2020
tragic news a legend! rest in peace kobe.
— Ella Mai (@ellamai) January 26, 2020
Aside from the stardom, it breaks my heart to see four kids lose their father including a six month old who will never know her dad. Kobe RIP.
— Touré (@Toure) January 26, 2020
We miss you already Kobe
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 26, 2020
— Danny Trejo (@officialDannyT) January 26, 2020
Janet and I have no words to describe our shock and sadness on the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant today. Praying for him and his family.
— Wayne Gretzky (@WayneGretzky) January 26, 2020
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) January 26, 2020
— Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) January 26, 2020
Heart going out to the Bryant family right now. RIP @kobebryant
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) January 26, 2020
Life is a blink. RIP Kobe.
— Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) January 26, 2020
Kobe literally just broke the internet.
Life is just so beyond our capacity to control. May his loved ones and those of all who perished find peace.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 26, 2020
Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 26, 2020
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
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
I am at a loss for words. How does this happen?! Devastated. Rip Kobe
— lindsey vonn (@lindseyvonn) January 26, 2020
Shocked and saddened about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. His mantra was “live today to inspire tomorrow” and he inspired millions. My heart goes out to his beloved family. pic.twitter.com/f25D74QzR5
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) January 26, 2020
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has been taken from us too early. Rest in peace, Mamba.
— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) January 26, 2020
— Mike Colter (@realmikecolter) January 26, 2020
Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant. Praying for your family. pic.twitter.com/P3uv8sdWUT
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) January 26, 2020
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) January 26, 2020
There are going to be a lot of complicated reactions to Kobe Bryant’s death but I feel all the sympathy in the world for Vanessa Bryant and their four daughters. 41 is so young. And he had a spectacular professional career.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 26, 2020
#KobeBryant you were the greatest. You made our city and the rest of the world so proud. Every basketball fan knew the magnificence of the Mamba. Love and healing to Vanessa and those little girls. God, this is just the worst ever.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 26, 2020
We lost a King. 824
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) January 26, 2020
Sending my love to Laker fans everywhere. Life can be so short. Hug your kids and call your parents and let your friends know you love them #kobe
— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) January 26, 2020
Same. This is just…#RIPKobeBryant
I’m telling y’all life is short and it is NOT about what we think it is.
Get right. Do right. Be right.
Love is it.
Love is all we’ve got.
Our love is all that will remain when we’re gone.
Especially when we’re gone too soon. https://t.co/5Imz4rbfXX
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) January 26, 2020
15 hours ago man… I actually cannot believe this. Praying for his family and close friends. Hoping it’s not true https://t.co/WI9UuuTGQ8
— Cody Bellinger (@Cody_Bellinger) January 26, 2020
Thank you #KobeBryant for normalizing the pursuit of greatness. Constantly striving as an athlete, as a man, as a father. Sending prayers up for Vanessa, the Bryant family and to the families of every single person that perished in this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/bXjAm9Eiou
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 26, 2020
— Billy Porter (@theebillyporter) January 26, 2020
I remember Kobe bringing his daughters to the WRINKLE IN TIME premiere and talking about its meaning for him as a father. He loved his girls so. LA weeps today, as do fans around the world. Goodbye, Kobe and Gianna. Our memories of you will live on and on. pic.twitter.com/rq2kEXPhOQ
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 26, 2020
My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience what the families involved are going through. This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and her baby girl. I cry just thinking about it. pic.twitter.com/U3osyw6Pzu
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 27, 2020
Kobe Bryant was my first real introduction to the NBA. I was 13 living in Queens NYC, the same age as his sweet little girl, Gianna. He ignited my love for the sport, competition, and striving for excellence. He inspired an entire generation. His legacy is so much bigger than basketball. This heartbreaking accident also took the life of his young daughter, Gianna. I’m shook and so saddened. My heart goes out to Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri Bryant. You are in my thoughts. Also sending my condolences to the loved ones of the other family and pilot in the accident. Being at tonight’s Grammys ceremony in his home at the Staples Center is going to be surreal. #RIP #KobeBryant #RIPMamba
A post shared by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (@priyankachopra) on
. Rest In Paradise Angels. pic.twitter.com/cfoBsM6XhT
— Ciara (@ciara) January 27, 2020
Family. As I scrolled through Kobe’s feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him … this is the truth that rings out the loudest … family is what matters most. We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now. I am sending all of my love and praying for you, your children and the other families involved in today’s tragic turn of events. The most unfair thing in life is to lose a child and husband on the same day. Vanessa, I pray for your strength and that God guides you each step of the way through this unimaginable heartbreak. To the other families who are suffering from this unthinkable tragedy, may God be with you all. Kobe you meant so much to so many and we will miss you forever. Thank you for your work ethic, your inspiration and your heart. #hero #legend #husband #father
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— SAG-AFTRA (@sagaftra) January 26, 2020
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) January 27, 2020
We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process. I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality. A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day. As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak or text, something started to change… your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself. Years passed, and the “old man” jokes would start to be traded back and forth. We both appreciated a good “ribbing.” We joked about “The Vino Club.” You nicknamed yourself ‘Vino’ to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does. But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge – it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person. People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn’t you. You had both qualities. The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant. That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me. I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy. My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers. Kobe… You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever.
A post shared by Justin Timberlake (@justintimberlake) on
I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! . Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life #Gigi4Life
A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on
Yesterday watching my husband & the kids in stunned silence, just staring at them, all of us thinking about @vanessabryant & her children and the families that lost pieces of their heart in an instant yesterday. Please remember that as life moves on for everyone else, the grief these families are experiencing just started. Please dont forget about them. Please dont forget about all the ppl who are suffering and frozen as life around them goes on. We love you. We are praying for you, for all of us struggling with unimaginable challenges we dont speak of.
A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on
My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 26, 2020
I can’t believe that my hero and friend is gone too soon. I’m numb. pic.twitter.com/VOZtxqfvJA
— Ice Cube (@icecube) January 26, 2020
I’m so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 26, 2020
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