The shocking death of NBA all-time great Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash this morning is lighting up social media. Bryant was a polarizing figure in his life, but even his opponents felt compelled to honor his talents and the drive that made him an icon.
Crowds are already gathering at Staples Center, the home court of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Bryant played 20 years for before retiring. The arena is hosting the Grammy Awards tonight, which means the scene could become chaotic as those arrivals begin.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement that “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“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.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued the following statement:
“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved. He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief.”
We’ll add to the reactions as more roll in. The messages so far:
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