On Sunday, Jan. 26, the sports world was shaken by the loss of legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant. Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., along with what is believed to be seven other passengers and the pilot, per TMZ. The tab also reported that 13-year-old Gianna Maria Onore, one of Bryant’s four daughters, and John Altobelli, a baseball coach, were aboard the fatal flight. The cause of the crash remains undetermined, but an investigation is reportedly underway.
While a lot of details have not been disclosed just yet, one thing is clear: Fellow athletes, celebrities, politicians, and more are coming together to mourn the loss of the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Laker. From Ice Cube’s text message of denial to Magic Johnson’s message to Laker Nation to Priyanka Chopra’s manicure — fans recognized the Black Mamba’s impact in diverse ways.
Fellow athletes released statements about Kobe Bryant’s death
Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s teammate during three championship seasons, was heartbroken over the news. « There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed, » he tweeted. « My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW »
« Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common, » he continued. « I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. »
Lakers legend and former team executive Magic Johnson tweeted: « As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. »
« Laker Nation, the game of basketball & our city, will never be the same without Kobe, » he added. « Cookie & I are praying for Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka & Capri, as well as his parents Joe & Pam & his sisters. We will always be here for the Bryant family. »
Other athletes honored his memory in touching ways
Basketball legend Michael Jordan released a statement to Sports Illustrated, which read, in part, « Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I love Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. 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. » Jordan’s statement also noted what an « amazing dad » Bryant was who « took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game. »
As shared on Sports Center‘s Twitter, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young honored his « idol » by donning a jersey with the number 8 on and personalized shoes for Sunday’s NBA game against the Washington Wizards. Ahead of the game, Young shared several tweets about Bryant’s passing, including a simple, « This can’t be real… » with a broken heart emoji. He later added a message about Bryant’s daughter Gianna, writing in part: « This S*** can’t be real… this the first moment I was able to meet Gianna Maria, she’s been to only 3 games this year… 2 of them were mine… She told me I was her favorite player to watch. »
The New York Knicks also took a moment of silence in his memory on Sunday night, projecting his image on the big screen. Madison Square Garden was lit up in the Lakers’ purple and gold. Per Entertainment Tonight, LeBron James was also spotted in tears exiting the Lakers’ plane after the news went public.
Barack Obama and Donald Trump shared statements about Kobe Bryant
Former President Barack Obama added his voice to the chorus of condolences online. Obama tweeted: « Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day »
President Donald Trump initially tweeted about reports of the crash and Bryant’s passing, calling it « terrible news! » He later shared a longer message, writing, « Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating…. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all! »
The Kardashians hearts are ‘so heavy’
Members of the Kardashian-Jenner family were among the many to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. Kim Kardashian posted a photo of Bryant and his daughter. Gianna. on Instagram, writing, « My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience what Vanessa is going through. This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and baby girl. I cry just thinking’s about it. I am praying for their family and everyone’s families who perished in this unthinkable tragedy. Rest In Peace Legend. »
Khloé Kardashian tweeted: « This can’t be real … there’s no way!!! My heart hurts. » Momager Kris Jenner shared multiple Instagram posts, including a message directed to Bryant’s wife: « I don’t have the words. Every ounce of my heart is with you, Vanessa. » Kylie Jenner posted on Instagram: « at loss for words right now. praying for this beautiful family, » while Kourtney Kardashian took to Instagram Story to say: « my heart is with Vanessa and her babies. »
Kendall Jenner shared a few tweets, too. She wrote, « sadly,i never personally knew u,but knowing i’m capable of these emotions for someone i only knew from a far makes me feel more human than ever.u had the magical ability of bringing people together, through sports & ur soul. we feel you so heavily today,i know you can feel us too. »
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend tweeted about the tragedy
Chrissy Teigen is known for her candid commentary, and her reaction to Kobe Bryant’s death summed up what everyone else was thinking. She tweeted, « I cannot believe this is real. My god. Oh my god. » In a follow-up tweet, she added, « Downtown right now and nothing feels more unimportant than what we are doing today. This is absolutely terrible. Everyone is numb. »
Teigen’s husband, musician John Legend, also posted a heartbreaking tweet as he was gearing up for Sunday’s Grammy Awards, writing: « I’m so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe. »
The Grammy Awards opened with a moment of silence for all those killed in the helicopter crash, and messages of support were shared throughout the uncustomarily heavy evening.
Singers like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato are devastated by the loss
Twitter and Instagram have been flooded with messages about Kobe Bryant. Taylor Swift tweeted: « My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight. »
In addition to sending « strength » and her « deepest condolences » to Bryant’s family, Gigi Hadid shared on Instagram: « This is too much. Rest In Peace and love together, legends. Growing up a Kobe fan brought so much joy to my life, like so many, and we were all so excited to see sweet Gigi play someday. »
Demi Lovato posted an Instagram tribute that read: « This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will [be] so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. » Similarly, Justin Bieber shared a photo with Bryant on Instagram, writing: « It can’t be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day.! Love you man! »
Priyanka Chopra paid tribute to Kobe Bryant at the Grammys and on IG
Sunday night’s Grammys took place at the Staples Center, where he played with the Lakers for 20 years, making the day’s loss of Kobe Bryant feel all the more poignant. Prior to the ceremony, Priyanka Chopra took to Instagram to write a lengthy tribute to Bryant’s legacy. « Kobe Bryant was my first real introduction to the NBA. I was 13 living in Queens NYC, the same age as his sweet little girl, Gianna. He ignited my love for the sport, competition, and striving for excellence, » she wrote. « He inspired an entire generation. His legacy is so much bigger than basketball. This heartbreaking accident also took the life of his young daughter, Gianna. I’m shook and so saddened. »
In the IG post, Chopra extended her heart to Bryant’s wife Vanessa and their three other daughters. « Also sending my condolences to the loved ones of the other families and pilot in the accident, » she said. The actress also noted that it would be « surreal » at the Staples Center that night. While walking the red carpet with husband Nick Jonas, Chopra wrote Bryant’s jersey number « 24 » on her fingernail and shared a picture on IG Story with the hashtag #RIPMamba.
Alicia Keys, Lizzo, and more honored his memory at the Grammys
Priyanka Chopra, of course, wasn’t the only celeb to honor Kobe Bryant at the Grammys. Kicking off the whole ceremony, host Alicia Keys told the crowd (via CBS News), « Earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built. » She continued, « Right now, Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit, they’re in our hearts, they’re in our prayers. They’re in this building. I would like to ask everybody to take a moment and just hold them inside of you. » Keys was then joined by Boyz II Men to sing « It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday, » since, as she said, music can be « the most healing thing in the world. »
When Lizzo performed on stage, she also shouted, « Tonight is for Kobe » before belting out her song « Cuz I Love You. » Lil Nas X also had one of Bryant’s jerseys displayed during his performance. And perhaps one of the most moving moments was when DJ Khaled, John Legend, and more artists’ tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle doubled as an homage to another LA legend, Bryant himself.
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union were ‘stunned’ by the news
Dwyane Wade is another basketball player who honored Kobe Bryant on Instagram, and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, did the same. Wade shared multiple posts, including one of them both on the court, writing, « Earning your respect meant everything. #mambamentality. » In another, he wrote, « RIP Kobe + GiGi […] I know you said keep going but today we can’t. We love you and we’re gonna miss you brother. » Wade even changed his Instagram photo to one of Bryant and his daughter Gigi, and shared several teary-eyed IG Story videos reflecting on the loss. « This is a sad day, there’s no way around it, » he said in one clip.
Union posted a photo of the Bryant family on her page. « Yesterday watching my husband & the kids in stunned silence, just staring at them, all of us thinking about @vanessabryant & her children and the families that lost pieces of their heart in an instant yesterday, » she wrote in the caption. « Please remember that as life moves on for everyone else, the grief these families are experiencing just started. Please dont forget about them. Please dont forget about all the ppl who are suffering and frozen as life around them goes on. We love you. We are praying for you, for all of us struggling with unimaginable challenges we dont speak of. »
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar honored a fellow legend
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and Kobe Bryant wasn’t too far behind. Following the news of Bryant’s passing, the legendary Abdul-Jabbar paid his respects with a heartfelt video on Twitter, writing, « Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. »
While wearing a Lakers sweatshirt, Abdul-Jabbar said in the video, « It’s very difficult for me to put in words how I feel about the loss of Kobe Bryant. As a young boy, I met him when he was 11 or 12 years old. I was friends with his dad Joe. We were former adversaries. Joe played for the 76ers, but he was a good friend… It’s hard for me to understand now how this is affecting Joe and his wife. » He extended his thoughts and prayers to Bryant’s loved ones.
Abdul-Jabbar continued reflecting on Bryant’s impact, « He was an incredible athlete and a leader in a lot of ways. He inspired a whole generation of young athletes. He was one of the first ones to leave high school and come into the NBA and do so well, dominating the game and becoming one of the best scorers that the Los Angeles Lakers had ever seen. » That’s a high compliment coming from a Laker legend such as Abdul-Jabbar.
Ice Cube was in denial about the death of his friend
Rapper and actor Ice Cube was in a state of complete shock and disbelief when he heard about the helicopter crash. In a heart-wrenching interview with ESPN, Ice Cube described the NBA legend as « some of the glue that holds LA together. » He also opened about his immediate reaction to the devastating news. The rapper revealed that he instinctively shot a text to Kobe Bryant. « To see if he would hit me back. When I didn’t get it back, you don’t immediately start to worry because you know it’s Kobe. He always gets back sooner or later. »
He eventually realized he was in denial about the tragic situation. « I just tossed and turned all night thinking about Vanessa, his daughters, his mother, his father and his sisters, Vanessa’s parents … just everybody in his immediate life who loved him and what they lost. » Ice Cube said the world is mourning alongside the Bryant family. « I know what we lost as fans. Me personally, I don’t have too many heroes that’s younger than me and [he] was one of them. It’s profound. » He added, « I hope the city wraps their arms around the family and embrace them as much as they embraced Kobe. »
Of course, all of these reactions are just some of the many tributes to Bryant. His legacy will continue to be remembered on social media and beyond.