Tributes flow for Kobe Bryant as the sporting world and Hollywood grieve

Athletes and celebrities have mourned the shock death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant who was killed Monday in a fiery helicopter crash.

The 41-year-old spent his entire professional career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and personified basketball in the city, winning five championships between 2000 and 2010.

The Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department responded to reports of a helicopter that crashed into a hillside and caught fire early Monday morning, AEST, killing everyone on board.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was among those killed on the flight, which was travelling to a basketball game, as was another player on his daughter’s team.

Bryant’s wife Vanessa was not on board. They had four children together – Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and newborn Capri.

Kobe Bryant has died, aged 41. Source: Getty

As news broke of the tragedy, tributes began to flow from all corners of the globe.

NBA legends including Scotty Pippen, Dwayne Wade and billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, have all expressed their shock and sadness at the news.

Meanwhile many in the sporting community outside of the NBA including NFL superstar Tom Brady, UFC star Daniel Cormier and Manchester City player Raheem Sterling were among the many to express their devastation as the sporting community grieves this morning.

Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion.

During one of the most memorable championship runs in the NBA, Bryant teamed up with centre Shaquille O’Neal to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. 

“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my niece Gigi & my brother Kobe Bryant,” he wrote on Twitter this morning.

“IM SICK RIGHT NOW”.

Bryant’s death comes less than 24 hours after Lebron James overtook him for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list.

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

Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players. Speaking to reporters Sunday, AEST, James recalled listening to the Lakers legend when he came to speak at a childhood basketball camp.

“I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” James said. “There’s no substitution for work.”

Former US president Barack Obama also paid tribute to the Bryant family over the sudden loss.

Hollywood mourns a Los Angeles icon

Living and working in Los Angeles, Bryant was heavily involved in Hollywood and even received an Oscar in 2018 for best animated short.

In 2016, he launched a multimedia production company called Granity Studios which is focused on creating new ways to tell stories around sports.

Many stars in Tinseltown have also taken to social media this morning to pay tribute to Bryant, including Reese Witherspoon, Ellen DeGeneres, Khloe Kardashian and Justin Bebier.

Mourners gather at Staples Centre ahead of Grammys

Dozens of mourners have descended on the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the home of the Lakers.

Just hours after new broke of the tragic accident, a makeshift memorial was established with people laying flowers and consoling one another.

Hundreds gathers on Monday morning, AEST, after news of the death broke. Source: Getty
People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant. Source: Getty

The venue is due to host the Grammy music awards today.

One mourner at the Staples Centre told media that he went to the venue when he heard the news because he didn’t know what else to do.

Another mourner said the tragedy felt like the death of a family member.

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