Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, a tragedy that has rocked the city of Los Angeles where he played his entire NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
“I don’t think just Los Angeles is mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant. Kobe was a special person,” Goodell said. “I did have the opportunity to meet him. He obviously brought a lot to our world and I think all of us not only feel for the tragic events to his family but as well as everyone else who was a passenger on that helicopter. It’s hard to understand and it’s hard to process.
Goodell noted the Bryant tribute Sunday during the league’s annual Pro Bowl, and that there was a moment of silence ahead of the official Super Bowl Opening Night on Monday. “We as a league have been very responsive and I think respectful of somebody who contributed so much to sports,” he said Wednesday. “We also lost one of our own legends last night, Chris Doleman, who I personally was very fond of and meant a great deal to me and the league. I think both of those individuals will be seen on Sunday in some fashion in a respectful way.”
Doleman, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings, died Wednesday of brain cancer at age 58.
The Grammy Awards were among the high-profile events that already have paid tribute to Bryant, with a song from Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men to open the CBS telecast Sunday. Yesterday, organizers of the Oscars confirmed that the February 9 telecast on ABC will also feature a tribute; Bryant won an Animated Short Oscar in 2018 for his Dear Basketball.
Also on Wednesday, Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s Lakers teammate who combined to win three NBA championships, said he was donating all proceeds from his Super Bowl LIV concert party to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation. O’Neal had spoken emotionally about Bryant during a segment the night before on an NBA on TNT segment.