Remembering Kobe Bryant: Basketball Legend
Los Angeles has faced the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday, January 26, alongside his daughter, Gianna.
Bryant is well-known as one of the greatest American basketball players in history. Over his 20-year career with the Lakers, he’s received 18 All-Stars, won five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships and was voted MVP in 2008. He’s ranked as the fourth best scorer in NBA history.
Bryant was signed to the Charlotte Hornets out of high school, was traded to the Lakers shortly after and built his long-standing career from there. The Lakers have retired his two jersey numbers: 8 and 24.
Kobe Bryant was travelling via private jet to a youth basketball game at his foundation, Mamba Sports Academy, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., with Gianna. He was joined by Orange Coast College (OCC) baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, an assistant baseball coach; Sarah Chester; Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan. There were no survivors.
Poor visibility is the supposed reason the helicopter crashed; however, investigations are ongoing, which may take weeks, as the crash site is not easily accessible due to hilly terrain.
Fans flooded the Staples Center late Sunday afternoon, leaving jerseys, purple and gold (Lakers’ colours) flowers, signs, candles, and prayers to Kobe, Gianna and the family.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
NBA players and celebrities alike have shared condolences online. Former Lakers’ coach Phil Jackson said [Kobe Bryant] “was special in many ways to many people.” Shaquille O’Neal, Norman Powell, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan all shared passionate tributes to Kobe. Tennis players Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios attended the Australian Open on Monday in Kobe’s apparel. Outside of the sports realm, the Grammy Awards, hosted the evening of his death, had host Alicia Keys in shock. “We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this … We’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Keys said. (The LA Lakers’ home venue is the Staples Center).
After retiring in 2016, he won an Academy Award for his work in Dear Basketball and strongly avocated for women’s sports. His daughter Gianna was growing up to become a stellar basketball player herself.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia Diamante (17), Bianca Bella (3) and Capri Kobe (less than a year old).