The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant has affected countless lives across the globe, with several prominent NBA figures releasing statements on social media to honor the 41-year-old legend.
Bryant, along with the pilot and seven other passengers (including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna), passed away in a horrific helicopter crash early Sunday morning. The crash occured in Calabases, California, with the helicopter reportedly in route to a travel basketball game.
“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.”
Here are some other reactions from those closest to Bryant:
- Hornets owner Michael Jordan released a statement expressing his sadness. “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m 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,” part of the statement read.
- Lakers legend Magic Johnson also offered some words on Bryant (Twitter links): “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.”
- NBA legend Jerry West released the following statement: “The news we’ve all received today is the most devastating news that anyone can imagine. I am so saddened for Kobe’s parents, Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, Kobe’s sisters and all of the NBA fans that hold Kobe in their heart. This loss of Kobe, Gianna, and everyone on board, is beyond tragic and incomprehensible. I will love Kobe forever and always cherish the time that I spent with him. I watched him grow from an energetic kid into the man he became, making a difference in so many people’s life. He has left the world a better place. Kobe’s legacy will live forever.”
- Barack Obama, who served as president for several years during Bryant’s playing career, stated the following: “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.”
- Dwyane Wade, Bryant’s longtime competitor and Olympic teammate, offered this heartfelt thought: “Heroes come and go LEGENDS live forever #8 #24″
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced that no other Maverick will wear No. 24 in honor of Bryant. “We are shocked and saddened by the devastating news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” he said. “Kobe was an ambassador for our game, a decorated legend and a global icon. Above all, he was a loving and dedicated father. Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the number 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick. Our hearts go out to all the lives lost and the families impacted by this terrible tragedy. We send our thoughts and prayers to Vanessa and the family, the Lakers organization and Kobe Bryant fans everywhere.”