The sports world is in shock following the tragic death of one of basketball’s most accomplished and iconic players.
Former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed after his private helicopter crashed in Calabasa, California early Sunday morning. L.A. County officials said in Sunday’s news conference that nine people (one pilot, eight passengers) were on board the helicopter. None of the nine survived.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion who spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers. His laundry list of basketball accomplishments include those aforementioned NBA titles, along with two Finals MVPs, league MVP in 2008, making the All-Star Game 18 times, 11 All-NBA First Team honors, and nine All-NBA First Team defense appearances. Not even 24 hours before Kobe’s passing, current Lakers star LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third on the list of NBA’s all-time leading scorers, doing so in Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia.
Kobe’s legacy extends far beyond basketball, and his impact on sport and culture can be seen on a global scale. The outpouring of emotional statements, tributes, and condolences have been made by athletes, coaches, and other figures across all sports, including boxing and MMA. Below is a compilation of reactions on social media from the likes of UFC president Dana White, heavyweight boxing great Lennox Lewis, UFC Raleigh main event winner Derek Brunson, and more.
Fuck man rest easy Kobe Byrant your legacy will live forever
— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) January 26, 2020
I am a wrestler and fighter at heart but athlete by choice. Kobe has to be one of the most iconic athletes of my generation that I can remember watching for so many years. RIP Kobe
— Deron Winn (@DeronWinn) January 26, 2020
A million apologies and condolences we just lost a super athlete #ripKobe
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) January 26, 2020
If the news about @kobebryant is true my heart breaks for the loss and my thoughts and prayers are with his family during this devastating time. RIP to one of the best to ever play the game.
— KEN SHAMROCK (@ShamrockKen) January 26, 2020
Truly heartbreaking news about the great Kobe Bryant! An iconic figure who will go down with the greatest of his generation.. #RIP
— Tony Bellew (@TonyBellew) January 26, 2020
Dam RIP to one of the greatest players to ever play the game. @kobebryant you will always and forever be missed. Sad you had to go so soon but you know they always said the good die young. Smh
— Terence Crawford (@terencecrawford) January 26, 2020
Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant the Legend. Remember wearing his jersey as a kid… can’t believe it.
— Chris Eubank Jr (@ChrisEubankJr) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant, Thank you for the years of your demonstration of “Fight” Gianna, Take your wings now and Soar like Dad. May all the family know a bit of us all died today. We rest in our Maker now pic.twitter.com/KUHwPppzuV
— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) January 26, 2020
Just over two years ago, the UFC announced a sponsorship agreement with sports drink company BodyArmor, with Bryant present as a member of the Board of Directors and the third largest shareholder. Bryant was also a speaker at the UFC Athlete Retreat, where he notably expressed his support for athlete unions following a question asked by former UFC women’s bantamweight Leslie Smith.
Kobe Bryant was just 41 years old. He is survived by his wife Vanessa, along with his other three daughters Natalia, Bianca, and newborn Capri, who is less than a year old.