The world reacted with shock late Sunday morning after hearing that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in California.
Bryant and his daughter were reportedly traveling to basketball practice when the accident occurred. “We’re told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred,” TMZ reports. “The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.”
The news was greeted with shock, not just by fans, but by those who knew and played with him. Among those delivering heartfelt tributes was NBA legend Michael Jordan, who expressed “shock” at hearing the news, and said that Bryant had been “like a little brother” to him.
Statement from Michael Jordan: pic.twitter.com/oI7w6e7HLI
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) January 26, 2020
Bryant became the NBA’s youngest player when he entered the league in 1996. At the time, many considered him to be an heir apparent to Jordan. Nothing that Bryant did during his career would dispute the notion that he deserved mention in the same elite group of all-time greats such as Jordan.
Before his time in the NBA would end, Bryant would be an 18x All-Star, a 2x Olympic Champion, and a 5x NBA champion.
In December of 2017,the Lakers retired Kobe’s #8 and #24, the two numbers he donned during his 20 years in Los Angeles. Lakers legend Magic Johnson called Bryant the greatest Laker of all-time. Referring to him as “the greatest who’s ever worn the purple and gold.“
Johnson went on to say, “I hope you recorded every game, and I hope you’re doing the same tonight. Because there will never be another Kobe Bryant.”
Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss also came out to heap praise on Bryant. “We’re retiring both of your numbers, because if you separated each of these of the accomplishments under those numbers, each of those players would qualify for the Hall of Fame.”
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn