Tears, tributes as NBA star Kobe Bryant dies in crash

By AT editor - 27 January 2020 at 5:50 am
Tears, tributes as NBA star Kobe Bryant dies in crash

The last Twitter message in Kobe Bryant’s account was sent to LeBron James on Saturday, when his fellow Los Angeles Laker star moved past Bryant’s own all-time NBA scoring record and replaced him at third place.

“Continuing to move the game forward,” Bryant said. “Much respect my brother.”

By Sunday night, most of the world knew that Bryant – beloved whether playing on the U.S. Olympic team, or tossing hoops with kids in Soweto – was gone.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash near his Los Angeles home, along with seven other people who were aboard the aircraft. They were en route to his Mamba Sports Academy when the helicopter, flying low because of cloudy and foggy conditions, slammed into a hillside and burst into flames.

Thousands of Los Angeles fans poured into the streets to celebrate his life and mourn his death. Bryant played 20 years for a city that, much like Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke, cannot believe he’s gone.

“How can Mamba be dead?” he asked. “Why this, why now, why him, why them? Kobe and Gianna leave behind an incredibly strong wife and mother, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born last summer. The horror of this is unspeakable. The tragedy of this is immeasurable.”

Far from L.A., the tributes and condolences also poured in.

“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” said former U.S. president Barack Obama. “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.”

Image: NBA


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    R.I.P. to Kobe Bryant and my condolences to all the families involved. Top 5 NBA All-Time great. See you when we get there Kobe. You might not be here but your spirit and legacy will always live on.

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    I was at home when I heard the news, around 8pm GMT. I’d just sat down on the sofa for a rest and opened the Instagram app to see a photo of Kobe Bryant and something like ‘RIP to the greatest’ from another NBA player. I was a bit confused, but didn’t want to make any assumptions to opened BBC News where the headline was ‘NBA Legend Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash’.

    It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been saddened to the brink of tears on hearing of the death of somebody I never met.

    When I was younger a family friend got me into basketball. It’s not that big in the UK. At the time Michael Jordan was at his prime and I loved watching Michael play. Then I remember seeing a young kid – who probably looked the same age as me at the time, ~13 – playing for the LA Lakers and that was it, from that moment on I was a Lakers and Kobe fan.

    Since my mid-teens he’s been my idol. He was the greatest player ever to me, and really seems to be a good guy away from the game too.

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