Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and beyond, causing not only his colleagues but a range of celebrities worldwide to pay tribute to the basketball icon.
A five-time NBA champion, who was also known by the nickname Mamba, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Bryant died in a helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, was awash in the Los Angeles Lakers colours of purple and gold – the team Bryant played for when he won his championship titles – and so too were the pylons that mark the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport.
Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan said Bryant would be remembered as one of the game’s greatest players of all time. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling,” Jordan said. “I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me.”
Shaquille O’Neal – who won three NBA titles and also famously feuded with Bryant in Los Angeles – also expressed his condolences over Twitter.
Brazilian footballer Neymar dedicated his second goal in Paris Saint-German’s 2-0 victory at Lille to Bryant, calling his death “deeply saddening for the world of sport and for all of us — not just for basketball fans but for everything he did for sport.”
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi wrote on Instagram: “I have no words … All my love for Kobe’s family and friends. It was a pleasure to meet you and share good times together. You were a genius like few others.”
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo said the news was “heartbreaking,” adding that Bryant was “a true legend and inspiration to so many,” while Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba added: “Heroes come and go, legends are forever.”
Golf superstar Tiger Woods, whose professional career started the same year as Bryant’s, recalled competitive qualities that echo those of Woods himself.
Bryant was also remembered from the red carpet to the main stage of the Grammy music awards show. Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant.
Other musicians and celebrities, including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Taylor Swift also published their tributes on Twitter.
Current US President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama both had expressed their condolences earlier.
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