On Sunday morning, Kobe Bryant was among five killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. The 41-year-old Laker legend and future Hall of Famer’s sudden death stunned the sports world, and after the initial reaction of shock and disbelief that most everyone had, tributes and remembrances of Kobe and his legacy, both what he meant to basketball as a whole and to players individually, began pouring in.
NBA players past, present, and future, along with sports and entertainment icons, began issuing their condolences to the Bryant family and mourning his loss. Some were left speechless, while others chose to remember stories and moments they shared with Kobe. For a generation of current players, Kobe was the player they modeled themselves after, as many remembered him by noting that he’s who they wanted to be and was the inspiration for their journey to the NBA.
🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏 this is so sad! RIP💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/5ykf0drVSG
— Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) January 26, 2020
Man I don’t even know where to start😭😭 I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!!
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 26, 2020
…This S*** can’t be real… this the first moment I was able to meet Gianna Maria, she’s been to only 3 games this year… 2 of them were mine… She told me I was her favorite player to watch🙏🏽 I can’t believe this😢😭
Rest Easy Gigi❤️ pic.twitter.com/IfDrE9Gjlv
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 26, 2020
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) January 26, 2020
More then just basketball man he has 4 daughters… life is crazy. Thoughts and prayers to his family.
— Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine) January 26, 2020
Gregg Popovich consoled DeMar DeRozan after the news of Kobe Bryant's death.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 26, 2020
Barack Obama offered his condolences to the Bryant family from he and Michelle after the news of Kobe and Gianna’s death.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. 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.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement on Bryant’s passing as well.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver statement on sudden death of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/5sHiu1sHEo
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 26, 2020
Amar’e Stoudemire was informed of Bryant’s death following a game in Israel and the emotion that overcame him was raw.
Amare Stoudemire in shock, learning during his debut with Maccabi Tel Aviv about Kobe's death
— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) January 26, 2020
Tyson Chandler was clearly struggling with the news on the bench as the Rockets took on the Nuggets less than an hour after the news of Bryant’s death became public.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) January 26, 2020
Brian Shaw was on the NBA TV pregame show for Rockets-Nuggets and shared his thoughts on his former teammate.
“For those Kobe fans that are out there, that are feeling like I feel right now, just try and think of all the joy that he brought you.”
Brian Shaw reacts to the reported passing of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/WjAwmIHQle
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 26, 2020
Jay Williams fought through tears during his appearance on ESPN after Kobe’s death.
Jay Williams gets emotional speaking on Kobe Bryant ♥️ pic.twitter.com/uzkruplye6
— ClutchPoints NBA (@ClutchPointsNBA) January 26, 2020
Doc Rivers broke down in tears while meeting with the media ahead of the Clippers game.
Doc Rivers breaking down while trying to talk about Kobe's death was heartbreaking..man. pic.twitter.com/gsGYbUTeb9
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 26, 2020
Legends of the game and players who shared the court or time in L.A. with Bryant looked back on their time with one of the league’s fiercest competitors, remembering the battles they had and friendship they shared, while offering their thoughts, prayers, and condolences to his family.
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
Jeannine & I are absolutely shocked to hear of the loss of one of my favorite people & one of the best basketball minds in the history of the game! Our hearts & prayers to Vanessa & his girls. @kobebryant you were my biggest fan, but I was yours #RIPMAMBA @NBA @espn @SLAMonline pic.twitter.com/Ll0BD6VWgr
— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 26, 2020
Beyond devastated… my big brother… I can’t, I just can’t believe it
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 26, 2020
I couldn’t guard him. No one could. He’s an All-Star in Heaven too. Praying for the whole family. I’m in shock. pic.twitter.com/xdGAgi5seM
— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) January 26, 2020
Prayers to his family and all the families affected.. This hurt my heart.
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) January 26, 2020
We all mourn the death of @kobebryant. My heart goes out to his family. May he rest in peace. 🙏
— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) January 26, 2020
Devastated to hear the news about @kobebryant. He was the best to ever do it. Praying for the Bryant family during this difficult time. Your legacy will live forever, you inspired and transformed a lot of us 😢😥😔 pic.twitter.com/8r0faP9hX2
— Bismack Biyombo (@bismackbiyombo) January 26, 2020
I had the honor to shake Kobe’s hand before my first ever NBA game. The man was a legend and that is a moment I will never forget. Prayers to his family and friends. Life is fragile. 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/yl1UgyrWZc
— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) January 26, 2020
RIP KOBE 😥😥😥 I can’t believe this is true. I’m at a loss for words 😥
— Tristan Thompson (@RealTristan13) January 26, 2020
Many from outside the NBA were heartbroken by the news as well, from Tom Brady to Drake remembering the Mamba, among many others from the world of hip-hop.