Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant acknowledges the fans after the last NBA basketball game of his career, against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Creative Commons)
Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant acknowledges the fans after the last NBA basketball game of his career, against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Creative Commons

Kobe sudden death leaves many stunned

January 30, 2020

Kobe Bryant, one of basketball’s greatest players, was among the passengers who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Bryant was 41.

Among the nine causalities was Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna. All aboard were heading to an AAU basketball game Sunday morning when the helicopter crashed. The cause of the crash is still unknown, but heavy fog in the area played a factor. The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PT. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m.

The crash came one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third on the NBA career scoring list. Bryant, himself, had his last tweet congratulating James on passing him on the list.

The entire world especially those in the basketball community took the sudden tragedy very tough, many sharing their immediate reactions on social media.

“Today is one of the saddest days in my lifetime,” Dwayne Wade said in his Instagram story.

“It seems like a bad dream that you just want to wake up from. It’s a nightmare. I know you’re all feeling the same way about such a great leader, a great champion, a great person.”

The two stars were teammates for Team USA when they won gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

“There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed,” Shaq tweeted. “My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.”

O’Neal won three championships while playing with the Lakers alongside Bryant in the early 2000s.

In a statement released by the league, NBA commissioner Adam Silver mentioned Bryant and his daughter by name, though, saying, “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. … We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”

In addition to the statement the NBA postponed the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers that was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, two days following the death. The move was made “out of respect for the Lakers organization.” It has not been announced as to when it will be made up.

Across the NBA, teams have honored the memory of Bryant by starting games with 24-second violations and, in some cases, 8-second violations. Famously, Bryant wore both the numbers 8 and 24 in his career with the Lakers and had both numbers retired in 2017. He is the only player in league history to have two jersey numbers retired with the same team.

Kobe’s sudden death even took Skyline students by surprised.

“The worst thing about was it being the worst news to wake up to,” said Christian Panalagao. “I checked it out and I couldn’t believe it.”

“I was sad because she was the only daughter who really played basketball,” said Kaitlyn Mejia. “She was really good too and she never had the chance to pursue her dreams like her dad was able to.”

Gianna Maria Onore Bryant was the second daughter of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant. She was a part of the Mamba Sports Academy with hopes of playing in the WNBA. She also looked to play college basketball at the University of Connecticut, historically known for having championship winning teams.

Bryant retired in 2016 after playing 20 seasons as a five-time NBA champion, 11-time All-NBA first-team selection, 2008 MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star and four-time All-Star MVP who spent his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also won gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics. And in 2018, Bryant won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film, Dear Basketball.

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