NBA Star Kobe Bryant: Remembrance
The NBA MVP and retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna Bryant along with seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, 26 January 2020.
The news reported that Bryant and his daughter were on their way to a travel basketball game and that another player and parent were aboard the helicopter as well. He leaves behind his wife, Vanessa, and three beloved daughters.
The 6-foot-6 guard made his pro debut in the 1996-97 season opener against Minnesota; at the time he was the youngest player to appear in an NBA game. Bryant’s breakout came in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season when he started in all 50 games after the Lakers traded away Van Exel and Jones. Bryant and leading scorer Shaquille O’Neal quickly morphed into one of the most lethal scoring and defensive combinations in the league. They led the Lakers to three consecutive championships (2000-02) as Bryant began to cement his place as the game’s top player.
Bryant was the fair heir to Michael Jordan, a scoring assassin who could rip a defender’s heart out by way of a devastating dunk, or an elusive fadeaway jump shot from the baseline, his singular work of art. He won five NBA championships, made 18 All-Star teams, won an MVP award, two scoring titles, two Olympic gold medals and just last Saturday night was passed by Lebron James on the NBA’s all-time scoring list: Kobe Bryant finished with 33,643 points, good for fourth.
In his final tweet, Bryant gave a shoutout to James, who viewed Kobe as an inspiration, for passing him on the all-time scoring list.
Athletes, artists and others quickly expressed their shock to the news of Bryant’s death on social media, including Earvin “Magic” Johnson — a former Laker and the team’s president of basketball operations, former NBA star Scottie Pippen, Saquon Barkley, NBA legend Dwayne Wade and former Indianapolis Colts player Pat McAfee.
Former President Barack Obama also made a statement on Bryant’s loss. “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” he said. “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents.”