Kobe Bryant's Friends and Teammates React to His Death With Emotional Tributes
Kobe Bryant's friends and teammates are mourning his death after the former NBA star died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA, on Sunday. According to Variety, the 41-year-old 18-time NBA All-Star was traveling in his private helicopter with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The aircraft reportedly crashed "amid foggy conditions" and a small fire erupted. There were no survivors.
Kobe's wife, Vanessa, penned a heartbreaking tribute to him and Gianna, along with NBA stars Shaquille O'Neal, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, and Scottie Pippen, who shared their sadness and disbelief on social media. See how Kobe's loved ones are honoring him ahead.
Alongside a family photo from their 2019 holiday shoot, Vanessa penned a heartbreaking message to Kobe and Gianna on Instagram. "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri," Vanessa wrote. "We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."
"I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that's to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever," she continued. "Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️."
"I'm Not Ready but here I go," LeBron wrote on Instagram. "Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn't think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we'd have. WTF!! I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I'll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it's my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There's so much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾"
"There are no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie," Shaq wrote on Instagram. "I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !"
The singer posted a photo of Kobe and Gigi on Instagram, adding, "I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe."
Drake posted an Instagram photo of himself at the 2016 NBA All-Star game, writing, "😤😔🥺 it can't be."
"I'm heartbroken by this news, you were a true legend, and friend," Tony wrote on Twitter. "Rest In Peace @kobebryant, my thoughts and prayers to his wife and kids. #legend #mamba #goat."
Jonah honored Kobe by posting a throwback photo of him sitting courtside with his late brother, Jordan, and the NBA legend. "My brother and I grew up worshiping the Lakers and because of my job we got to sit next to Kobe and the whole team!" he wrote. "We were literally buzzing with excitement to meet our hero and it's one of my favorite memories ever. It's my favorite memory with my brother. I'm sitting between Kobe and my brother and now they're both gone. I have been staring at this photo for days in disbelief and sadness and joy. It's my favorite picture and I think it represents for me, all of the hard and amazing things in life and how fleeting they are. But their fleeting nature doesn't make them any less beautiful." The actor went on to encourage fans to cherish every moment, adding, "Take care of each other and love each other. That's the lesson I've learned."
Alongside a series of Instagram photos of him and Kobe on the court over the years, Lamar penned a touching tribute to his former teammate.
"These picture are just the tip of the iceberg of our relationship. He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court. On the court he taught me how to carve out defenses and how to take my time. How to make winning my ultimate goal," Lamar wrote. "Off the court he taught me to sign my own checks lol. Of course anyone who knows my story knows I've suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son. Even though our relationship wasn't father/son, it was more like him being a teacher and me being his brother. I'm glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure."
He continued, "I couldn't even catch my breath today when I heard this news. I just knew if he was in a helicopter crash he would have been the one to survive. Somehow he would have jumped out and landed on his feet. I'm sitting here thinking about when we would be in practice scrimmaging and you would start the jump ball off with elbowing Sasha in the chest. Like dude it's 10:30 in the morning lol. You think watching him play was crazy, you gotta think in practice if you scored like 8-9 buckets throughout the practice you had a great practice. I've seen him knock off 13-14 in a row in practice!!!! I'm still waiting for the media to come out and say wrong report. No way God took my brother this early. I know I been through my own stuff in life with using drugs and not being good to myself. When I went through that Coma situation if God would have came to me and said we would take me and spare Kobe I would have rather that happened. In honor of my brother I'm up at 4am tomorrow to get to the gym! Gigi gone give you buckets!!!! I love you brother 💔🙏🏿😥 @kobebryant."
The singer shared of photo of Kobe and his daughter Gianna writing, "still doesn't feel real...still can't find the right words. We miss you man! 🙏🏿💔 May God have mercy on the Bryant family and the families of all the souls we lost!"
Michael Eric Dyson
Alongside a photo of Kobe and his family, Jamie paid tribute to him on Instagram, writing, "Just can't take this one. Sending up prayers to your beautiful family. This hurt for a lifetime... @kobebryant you will be missed for eternity. REST IN POWER."
"Rip @kobebryant 😔," Andre tweeted, "doesn't feel real.... my heart goes out to his family and loved ones 🦋."
Michael Jordan released a statement shortly after Kobe's death writing, "I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved 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. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world."
David shared a lengthy post on Instagram writing, "It's taken me hours to work out what to write and still my words won't ever be enough to describe how I am feeling after the tragic loss of Kobe. This was one special athlete, husband, father and friend. Having to write these words is hard enough but also knowing we have lost an amazing human being and his beautiful and talented daughter Gianna is heartbreaking. The commitment Kobe showed to his sport was inspiring, to go through the pain and to finish a game off like only he could inspired me to try to be better. Sometimes I would only go to games just to watch that clock go down to the last 2:00 minutes knowing that we were about to witness something special. Kobe always talked about Vanessa and his beautiful girls and how proud he was of them. Kobe's passion was his family and basketball. He was determined to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to embrace the sport that he loved. His legacy will live on. My family's love and prayers go out to Vanessa and the girls, to Kobe's basketball family, and of course to the families of those who were tragically lost with him yesterday... 💛💜"
"We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process. I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality. A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day. As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak, something started to change... your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself," Justin wrote on Instagram. "Years passed, and the 'old man' jokes would start to be traded back and forth. We both appreciated a good 'ribbing.' We joked about 'The Vino Club.' You nicknamed yourself 'Vino' to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does. But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge - it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don't mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person. People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn't you. You had both qualities. The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant. That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me. I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy. My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers.
Kobe... You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It's our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I'm gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever."
The Rockets and the Nuggets
The teams held a moment of silence before their game on Sunday.
Jennifer posted a heartfelt tribute on Instagram alongside photos of her and Kobe's family over the years. "Family. As I scrolled through Kobe's feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him . . . this is the truth that rings out the loudest . . . family is what matters most," she wrote. "We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now. I am sending all of my love and praying for you, your children and the other families involved in today's tragic turn of events. The most unfair thing in life is to lose a child and husband on the same day. Vanessa, I pray for your strength and that God guides you each step of the way through this unimaginable heartbreak. To the other families who are suffering from this unthinkable tragedy, may God be with you all. Kobe you meant so much to so many and we will miss you forever. Thank you for your work ethic, your inspiration and your heart. #hero #legend #husband #father 😢🙏🏼💔"
Alex penned a heartfelt tribute on Instagram that reads as follows:
"My heart hurts so much right now. I still can't wrap my head around this. How can it be? I learned so much from Kobe Bryant. He was naturally gifted, but had a passion for basketball like no one else I've ever seen. His work ethic was impeccable and his stress on mastering the fundamentals is what elevated him to the player he was. I've never met anyone more focused with a myopic approach. He didn't pursue approval, affirmation or adulation. He pursued excellence and process. He followed my career and would often call to help with my health, daily routine ... and would even chime in about hitting techniques. He was a role model to me, and millions around the world.
We met as teenagers. We followed similar paths. We went from high school to the pros and our baby girls grew up together. People don't know this, but he was my secret coach. He pushed me and motivated me, especially toward the end of my career when I needed him most. He was always there. Even after our playing days, he was there for me. He attended @Jlo's last show in Vegas. He appeared on TheCorp podcast.
I last saw him a few months ago. I will remember what he told me about how much he loved Vanessa and his girls, and that he continued to say no to 99 percent of offers, choosing instead to spend as much time with his family as possible.
I will remember his greatness. I will remember his guidance. I will remember his friendship. I will remember that he made me a better person.
His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was following in her Dad's footsteps. She was kind, smart, caring and going to be a star.
Rest in peace, Kobe. Rest in peace, GiGi. My heart and prayers go out to the Bryant family and the passengers' families."
The singer shared a photo of her hugging Kobe on Twitter writing, "I am completely speechless and devastated at the unexpected passing of my dear friend, @kobebryant. Kobe had a big heart and an even bigger love for the community of Los Angeles. Through his foundation, he changed the lives of so many people and families with his wife, Vanessa."