Kobe Bryant tributes: Celebrities react to sudden death of NBA star in helicopter crash

Stars from across the sport, music and acting worlds are paying their respects to the NBA legend

Gemma Fox
Sunday 26 January 2020 21:41 GMT
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant dead aged 41

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Tributes are pouring in for NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California with the pilot and seven other passengers, including his 13-year-old daughter.

One of NBA’s most popular players, who won five championships, Bryant and his family have received condolences from celebrities and fans alike.

Fans gathered outside the Staples Centre in California to pay tribute and remember the basketball legend.

Donald Trump tweeted that it was “terrible news”. Melania Trump also tweeted her condolences.

Barack Obama called the basketball star a “legend on the court” as he and wife Michelle sent their “love and prayers” to the family of Bryant and his daughter.

“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” the former president tweeted.

“To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Obama, a known basketball fan, famously mimicked Bryant’s “Mamba out” mic drop at his final White House correspondents’ dinner in 2016.

Usain Bolt said he “still can’t believe” the news, sharing a picture of the pair together.

Former Lakers president Magic Johnson said he was "in disbelief" and had been "crying all morning".

"It's hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players," he added.

Michael Jordan, regarded by many as perhaps the greatest basketball player of all-time, said: “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling."

US footballer Megan Rapinoe also paid tribute, writing: “Heart going out to the Bryant family right now.”

Actress and television personality Whoopi Goldberg said Bryant was a “hero” to her family in a tribute on Twitter.

“RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me and my family. My deepest condolences to his family,” she said.

Actor Idris Elba wrote on Twitter: “Kobe is G. Will always be remembered. A sad day.”

Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles posted a photo of the US gymnastics team with Bryant, saying: “Rest in peace Kobe”.

US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paid tribute to Bryant and the other passengers of the helicopter.

She said on Twitter: “Deeply shocked at the news of Kobe Bryant and four others lost today. Sending all my thoughts to their families and loved ones in this devastating moment.”

Singer Justin Bieber posted a photo of himself as a child with Bryant on Instagram.

He said: “It can’t be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day! Love you man!”

“Continuing to move the game forward (at) King James,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”

Music stars, including Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Cardi B, also paid their respects.

Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic.

He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.

A moment of silent was held before the Houston Rockets vs Denver Nuggets basketball game on Sunday.

Tiger Woods only learned the news after completing his game in San Diego. ”One of the most shocking, tragic days that I’ve ever been a part of,” Woods said.

Additional reporting from agencies

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