Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and staunch supporter of the WNBA, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday outside of out Los Angeles on Sunday. The news, first reported by TMZ, has been confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
TMZ reports that his 13-year-old daughter Gigi also perished. Bryant, 41, leaves behind wife Vanessa and three other children ranging in ages 17 to seven months: Natalia Diamante, Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe.
Bryant perished along with eight others who were aboard the aircraft, one of whom is reported to be his daughter, Gigi, as they were on their way to her basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy.
Bryant dies just one day after LeBron James eclipsed him on the NBA all-time scoring list.
Figures from the around the world of women’s basketball weighed in on the news that has stunned the world:
Very heavy heart on loss of Kobe and his daughter and the others in the tragic crash today. Admired his Mamba mentality, and so grateful for Kobe’s support of the WNBA and girls basketball. Thoughts and prayers are with the Bryant family and other families impacted. #8 #24 pic.twitter.com/iXkDHUNT0P— Cathy Engelbert (@CathyEngelbert) January 26, 2020
Elena Delle Donne
At a loss for words, RIP to a legend. Can’t believe this. #Kobe— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 26, 2020
Two weeks ago I got to meet and converse about life and basketball with one of my favorite players EVER. I got to watch and meet his daughter GiGi as well. Life is too short. This one hurts BAD. Prayers up to Vanessa and the family. pic.twitter.com/ZfVcUMwMAS— Jordin Canada ✨ (@jordin_canada) January 26, 2020
I’m in pure utter sickness right now ! I was just called by his team to do some workouts in La with him and missed it do to being overseas. I wish I would have gone. May god bless his family pic.twitter.com/PoCTzvmwO8— Angel McCoughtry (@angel_35) January 26, 2020
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You were so intentional about seeing us as women progress in the game of hoop. Working out and picking your brain from you was one of the best days of my life, and I am stunned at the devastating news I just want to say thank you for being what you have been to the game of basketball. Your legacy rests in us all. #24
After the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks clinched an 88-53 blowout of the Georgia Bulldogs, Staley — a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer — responded to the news of Bryant’s tragic passing:
@GamecockWBB head coach @DawnStaley on Kobe Bryant:— Tamryn Spruill (@tamrynspruill) January 26, 2020
"Words can't describe. He pretty much dedicated his post (playing) career to his daughters... It's a shame that we lose such an advocate of the women's game. I'm still in a state of shock... Our prayers go out to his family."
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My heart is so so heavy right now! Just wow! I can’t make sense of it. We all have gifts, some of us have privilege as well. Both are an absolute blessings! Live life with no regrets, take advantage of every opportunity you have to grow, get better, better those around you, nature those gifts. Have a Mamba Mentality!!!!!!! Kobe can forever live if we are inspired by his example, that we take advantage of every bit of time we have. Rest In Heaven My Guy!!!!!!! I am forever grateful and honored that I was able to spend time and get to know you just a little bit. It was a true blessing, is a blessing. Sending loads of prayers to The Bryant Family. #MambaForever #8 #24 ✊
Prior to tipoff of his No. 9 Mississippi State Bulldogs against Ole Miss, head coach Vic Schaefer shared sentiments with his players in a mic’d huddle:
Life is fleeting. You just never know. I just encourage you to embrace the moments in your life. All of you. And realize how fortunate you are. Embrace it because you just don’t know.
Former Hail State star Victoria Vivians, now with the Indiana Fever, retweeted this photo from her former program:
Struggling to process what is now a reality. Kobe’s life after basketball was just beginning and his second act was going to be even greater. His legacy, Gigi’s legacy both will live on forever!— Derek Fisher (@derekfisher) January 26, 2020
WNBA leading scorer Diana Taurasi, nicknamed the “White Mamba” by Bryant who was known as the “Black Mamba,” told Swish Appeal in 2018 that she was honored to share “that Mamba blood” with Bryant.
“They don’t anoint people anymore,” said Taurasi. “They don’t put the sword on your shoulder anymore, [so] when they do you have to take it really serious. And I’ve taken it really serious.”
Of her relationship with Bryant, Taurasi said the two had “a deep understanding … without [having to be] Instagram buddies.” Taurasi has been a longtime critic of social media.
Bryant narrated a BODYARMOR commercial featuring Taurasi, praising her relentless work ethic and quest for “better.”
A staunch supporter of the WNBA, Bryant declared less than a week ago that Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne and Maya Moore have the “Mamba Mentality” to play in the NBA right now. He was one of the most vocal high-profile supporters of the women’s game.
The social media aspects of this story were compiled with help from Cat Ariail, Jim Savell and Zack Ward.