Sun | Feb 23, 2020

Sporting world mourns loss of Bryant

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:33 AM
Fans of Kobe Bryant gather at a memorial in honour of the late NBA legend near Staples Center in Los Angeles, California yesterday.
Fans of Kobe Bryant gather at a memorial in honour of the late NBA legend near Staples Center in Los Angeles, California yesterday.

CALABASAS, California. (AP):

NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California yesterday, his sudden death at age 41 touching off an outpouring of grief for a star whose celebrity transcended basketball.

The chopper went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities said that nine people were aboard the helicopter and presumed dead. Bryant, an all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among the victims, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed, a different person familiar with the case said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva would not confirm the identities of the victims yesterday afternoon pending official word from the coroner.

“God bless their souls,” Villanueva said at a news conference.

News of the charismatic superstar’s death rocketed around the sports and entertainment worlds, with many taking to Twitter to register their shock, disbelief and anguish.

“Words can’t describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me,” retired NBA great Michael Jordan said. “We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.”

NBA players were in tears during pregame warm-ups as crowds chanted “Kobe! Kobe!” Tiger Woods was unaware of the news during his final round at Torrey Pines in San Diego when he started hearing the gallery yell “Do it for Mamba,” referring to Bryant by his nickname.

Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific shotmaker with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.