Former Los Angeles Lakers and NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away at the age of 41 in a helicopter accident Sunday, Jan. 26, per TMZ. Bryant, who played for the Lakers for all 20 seasons of his career, not only produced on the court but also inspired current and future generations off it.
Stars of the NBA world, both past and present, have taken to social media to express their disbelief and gratitude for the impact that Bryant has had on their lives.
“I’m stunned,” Scottie Pippen, former NBA player who played against Bryant various times during his 17-year career, tweeted out following the news of Bryant’s death. “Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.”
Bryant’s impact reaches far beyond the game of basketball, though, as a variety of athletes from all sports have spoken out following the breaking news.
“I had so much respect for him as a competitor,” New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees said in an interview during the 2019-2020 NFL Pro Bowl Game. “I know he inspired so many people in so many different ways. [He was] one of the great competitors of any generation, not just with sports but I think just with the way he approached a lot of things and what he was doing now after basketball.”
Reports have also confirmed that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, were flying along with seven other individuals on their way to Gianna’s basketball practice before the crash occurred.
Although gone, the reactions to Bryant’s passing indicate that the NBA community and beyond will never forget the influence he had on others throughout his life and his widely-respected “Mamba Mentality.”
“He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief.”