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WNBA reacts to tragic passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, daughter Gigi

Kobe Bryant dies one day after LeBron James passed him on the NBA all-time scoring list. The five-time champion was one of the most high-profile advocates for the women’s game.

Elena Delle Donne, 2019 WNBA champion and league MVP, shared this photo on her Instagram after learning of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
Courtesy of Elena Delle Donne via Instagram

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:

Cathy Engelbert

Elena Delle Donne

A’ja Wilson

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A post shared by A'ja Wilson (@aja22wilson) on

Breanna Stewart

Jordin Canada

Angel McCoughtry

Monique Billings

Lisa Leslie

Rebecca Lobo

Dawn Staley

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:

Tina Thompson

Arike Ogunbowale

Vic Schaefer

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:

Minnesota Lynx

Derek Fisher

Diana Taurasi

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.