Over this past weekend, the NBA family lost a father, son and superhero, all in one, with the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant. Initially reported by TMZ on the morning of Sunday, January 26, Bryant lost his life in a helicopter crash while flying over Calabasas, CA. Traveling with the superstar athlete, was his 13-year daughter Gianna (GiGi), who also perished in the collision, as the two were headed to Bryant’s Mamba Academy where GiGi played.
The Lakers Legend is touted as one of the best basketball players ever to touch a ball, amassing an ever-impressive list of accomplishments over an illustrious 20-year career. Bryant famously led the purple and gold to five NBA championships, with 18 All-Star appearances, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and league MVP honors in 2008. Millions of fans, from every corner of the globe poured their hearts out over social media, painfully expressing the impact Bryant had on their lives.
As can only be expected, legions of NBA players also shared heartfelt memories of their time battling the “Black Mamba.” To the dismay of many fans far and wide, NBA games were still played on the day in question, however, most teams and players honored the late legend via video tributes, sorrowful speeches and celebratory uniform tweaks. For instance, the Dallas Mavericks announced they will retire the number 24—Bryant’s last jersey number—as a way to commemorate his greatness. Elsewhere, the Toronto Raptors opened up their game against the San Antonio Spurs by dribbling out the opening 24-second shot clock—another symbolic reference to the special number.
Kobe and GiGi were joined by several other individuals at the time of the crash, who, according to TMZ, also lost their lives in the incident. The cause of the crash is still being investigated.