One of the greatest basketball players and most influential sportspeople of all time, Kobe Bryant, died on Sunday (26/01) in a helicopter crash in California, the United States aged 41. The former Los Angeles Lakers player had retired from basketball in 2016 following an impressive career that secured his name in sports history.
He was travelling with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, none of whom survived the crash. The accident is still under investigation and it is too early to determine what could have caused it.
Travelling by helicopter was nothing new to Kobe Bryant, being the owner of a Sikorsky S-76, making this a usual trip with nothing out of the ordinary.
Minutes after the crash, fans worldwide started paying their respects to the basketball star, with celebrities paying tribute to him and his legacy and showing their support for his family. Shaquille O’Neal tweeted: ‘There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.’
Other celebrities, such as Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama, Lewis Hamilton and Neymar also paid their respects to Bryant, all of them incredulous that this could have happened.
The news of his death during a routine activity only magnifies the shock of this tragic loss–the disbelief that he could be taken away at such a young age, after contributing so much to the world of sport.
*If you have been affected by this tragedy or you have just lost a family member or friend and you are struggling to cope, feel free to call your 24-hour helpline: 020 7686 6000. There, you will find someone to talk to, who can help you to get through this terrible time.