Kobe Bryant, 41, spent 20 years in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant was an 18-time all-star, 5 time NBA world champion, 2 time NBA finals MVP, 2 time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. It has been reported that Bryant, along with his 13-year old daughter, his daughter's teammate, and the teammate's parent were going to basketball practice when their helicopter encounter heavy amounts of fog near mountains in Calabasas, CA, as reported by TMZ. All four passengers, along with the pilot were pronounced dead at the scene. Bryant leaves behind his wife and three daughters.
1. Shock Wave Heard Around the World
Nearing kickoff of the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando Florida, everything seemed to be normal, as players were warming up on the field, and fans filled the seats.
Then rumors were starting to spread that there was a major death in the sports world that no one was going to expect. Then the horrible news broke the Kobe Bryant had passed away in a helicopter crash near Calabasas California.
Early reports say that Bryant, along with the other eight passengers aboard the flight, were killed instantly when the helicopter crashed.
At first, it seemed like a terrible joke or a nightmare that you couldn't wake up from. No one really was thought it could true, just days ago Bryant was sitting courtside watching his beloved Los Angeles Lakers play at the Staples Center.
Then during ABC's coverage of the NFL Pro Bowl, during a commercial break, an ABC Special Report confirmed that the Philadelphia native had died on the helicopter today.
Videos began to surface at Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets game, the player was found just moments before tip-off of Bryant's passing. And many players couldn't hide their emotions when they heard the news.
The Toronto Raptors let the 24-second shot clock expire after the opening tip, to honor Bryant, who wore the number 24.
Bryant isn't the first former athlete to be involved in an aviation incident in recent memory, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr, along with his wife, Amy, their daughter Isla, their dog, and two others were involved in a plane crash outside of Bristol, TN in late August 2019. Fortunately, all on-board would escape with no serious injuries.
2. Worst Timing Possible
No one wanted to see Kobe Bryant pass away, but for Bryant to only be 41 years old is just mortifying.
Bryant's passing comes just one day after Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the all-time NBA scoring list. Bryant was quoted on Twitter as saying "much respect to my brother".
The tragic news comes only three weeks prior to the NBA All-Star Game, which is being played in Chicago, IL, and was a game where Bryant always made an impact.
The Los Angeles Lakers haven't been in the playoff spotlight since the end Bryant's prime, the early 2010s, when Bryant ended his playing career in 2017, he finished off with a 60 point performance, putting one final stamp in his amazing legacy.
To continue, Bryant's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, are currently the #1 seed in the Western Conference, and it would've been a sight to see Bryant sitting courtside as the Lakers made an NBA Finals push.
3. Heartache Around The World
Kobe Bryant was an inspiration for people all across the world, kids growing up in the 2000s would yell "Kobe" during math class as they threw their trash into the trashcan, trying to recreate Bryant's iconic fade away.
Many current NBA players have gone to social media to leave their final wishes to the Laker great. Among those was rising star Ja Maront, who posted a picture to Instagram showing his jersey next a signed Kobe jersey saying "you wit me tonight my guy".
Other athletes, and celebrities including, Dwayne Wade, Joc Pederson, Snoop Dogg, Rich Eisen, Bob Menery, have paid respect to Kobe Bryant, as his impact on, and off the court is something that may never be seen again.
LeBron James, who had many great matchups against Bryant, told a great story to ESPN about how Bryant told him at Bryant's ABC camp when he was 15 "if you want to be one of great or the greatest, then you gotta put the work in." safe to say James took his advice.
The most touching of all was current UCLA sophomore Shareef O'Neal, who is the son of NBA great Shaquille O'Neal. Shareef grew up with Bryant and left a touching message on Instagram showing a direct message he had with Bryant just this morning.
O'Neal stated in the post "I love you man...thank you for everything you've done.. for this city (Los Angeles), for the basketball world, and for me."