Basketball superstar

Fans mourn the tragic and sudden death of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant

Sports fans around the world are struggling to find words to describe how they feel about the sudden death of retired American basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in the hills outside Los Angeles. They reportedly went to a youth basketball tournament.

Bryant was known to use a helicopter from his home at Los Angeles games to avoid the city’s notoriously bad traffic.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the investigation was underway with the help of federal officials, but has so far given no information on the cause of the crash, including whether the conditions foggy Sunday mornings played a role.

A Kobe Bryant fan brings flowers as other admirers mourn in front of a small memorial at the entrance to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Jan.26, 2020.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva declined to identify one of the victims, saying his office would wait for coroners to do their job. He called it “totally inappropriate” that the entertainment news website TMZ reported the deaths before authorities could notify the families.

Kobe Bryant was 41.

In an unusually brief tweet, US President Donald Trump called it “terrible news” while First Lady Melania Trump sent her “thoughts and prayers” to all who have lost loved ones.

Former President Barack Obama, a well-known basketball fan, tweeted that Bryant “was just beginning what would have been an equally significant second act” to follow his basketball career.

Fans observe a moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant before an <a class=NBA basketball game between the Orlando Magic and the LA Clippers in Orlando, Florida on Jan.26, 2020.” src=”https://gdb.voanews.com/f5baac23-5eb9-418a-afb6-0acfa7712e76_w250_r0_s.jpg”/>

Fans observe a moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant before an NBA basketball game between the Orlando Magic and the LA Clippers in Orlando, Florida on Jan.26, 2020.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the man who scored more points than anyone in NBA history, calls Bryant “a man who was much more than an athlete.”

Another NBA greats, Shaquille O’Neal, tweeted “I’m sick right now.”

Stars from other sports – including soccer’s Tom Brady and hockey’s Wayne Gretzky – are also expressing their shock. Major League Baseball says it is “devastated”.

Fans of the NFL Pro-Bowl game chanted “Kobe …. Kobe” as the news spread through the stands.

Sobs were heard as moments of silence ensued in NBA games across the country on Sunday, but the league decided not to cancel any contests.

The San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors players refused to shoot, willfully violating the game’s 24-second timer in honor of Bryant, who wore the number 24 on his jersey.

Italian football (soccer) club AC Milan, of which Bryant was a huge fan, called him “one of the greatest sportsmen of all time”, while the International Olympic Committee tweeted that Bryant “will always remain in our hearts”.

Thousands of people gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Bryant Lakers play their home games. Most just felt they just had to be there.

People gather around a makeshift memorial to former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant after learning of his death, in LA Live Square outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on January 26 2020.

People gather around a makeshift memorial to former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant after learning of his death, in LA Live Square outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on January 26 2020.

Bryant went down in history as one of the greatest professional basketball players to ever walk the court. He has spent his entire professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers – winning five NBA championships and the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008. He is the fourth-highest scorer of all time. LeBron James passed him to number three on the list a day earlier. Bryant tweeted his congratulations to James.

A native of Philadelphia, Bryant spent much of his youth in Italy where his father played professional basketball after his own career in the NBA.

Unlike many NBA stars, Bryant skipped a college career after returning to the United States and was drafted straight out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 before being traded to the Lakers.

Some of Bryant’s accomplishments throughout his 20-year NBA career include becoming the youngest NBA star in 1998, when he was just 19; an 81-point game in 2006 – the second-highest of all time; and Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

After announcing his retirement due to injury, Bryant scored 60 points in his last professional game in 2016.

His 2017 poem in which he said goodbye to the Lakers, “Dear Basketball,” has been turned into a cartoon. Bryant surprised audiences when he took the stage to accept the 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short.

Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a helicopter crash that killed retired <a class=basketball star Kobe Bryant and others in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, Calif., On the 26th. January 2020.” src=”https://gdb.voanews.com/3147f9ac-415d-4b0f-aacb-fec4ea4bffc2_w250_r0_s.jpg”/>

Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a helicopter crash that killed retired basketball star Kobe Bryant and others in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, Calif., On the 26th. January 2020.

Bryant’s life was not without its share of controversy. A hotel worker charged him with rape in 2003. A court dismissed the charge, but Bryant pleaded guilty to adultery and settled a civil action brought by the woman.

His post-NBA career included starting a charitable foundation and running a summer basketball camp for kids.


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