At the age of 41 he was awaiting certain induction into the Hall of Fame after a brilliant career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had already won an Oscar in his post-basketball work as a film producer, written one book and started another, and was a mentor to a number of NBA players.
Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.
The other victims included two of Gianna’s 13-year-old basketball teammates, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli. Chester’s mother, Sarah, also was killed along with Altobelli’s parents, longtime college baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife, Keri.
Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Elton Brand described what Kobe Bryant meant to the game of basketball.
“Kobe meant a lot to us all. Wasn’t just what he accomplished, but how he accomplished it. His hard work, his tenacity, his passion, get the most out of his talent, his Philadelphia roots, we lost someone that was special to us, special to this area, special to the league. We’ll try to commemorate him tomorrow hopefully show how much this area loved him and continue to do so. Tough time for the area, tough time for the organization. He will certainly be missed…It’s a tough time for us. And I’m sure the Laker organization, I can’t fathom what they’re going through today also.”
Michael Jordan on the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna pic.twitter.com/z0Ja0hf9QX
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 26, 2020
Heartbroken. The NBA family and the basketball world have lost a big giant, a father, husband and a legend of the game, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna died today. RIP my brother! @nba @nbacares pic.twitter.com/bWgQvdLG2Q
— Dikembe Mutombo (@officialmutombo) January 26, 2020
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As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. I love him, his family and what he stood for on the court and off the court. 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. He gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, and NBA and WNBA players. Words can’t express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the City of Los Angeles. He was such an icon but also did so much for LA. He was passionate about serving the homeless and was an advocate for women's basketball. Coaching his daughter’s basketball team brought him so much happiness. Kobe and I shared so many special conversations about life and basketball. We had so much in common off the court. I used to love talking to him about Lakers basketball, being fathers and husbands and how much we loved Italy. I will miss those conversations and him so much. Laker Nation, the game of basketball and our city, will never be the same without Kobe. Cookie and I are praying for Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri, as well as his parents Joe and Pam and his sisters. We will always be here for the Bryant family. We love you forever. 🙏🏾❤️ #8 #24
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
It’s much bigger than basketball but what he has done to push the game forward for young girls and women in such a short time is amazing and inspiring. His legacy must continue! https://t.co/rgT6FeVHxX
— Derek Fisher (@derekfisher) January 27, 2020
In our 1998 feature "Teenager of the Year," a 19-year-old Kobe Bryant faced his second NBA season and the hype of being the next Michael Jordan https://t.co/fBbEmLo7bY
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) January 26, 2020
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There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !