The former Los Angeles Lakers star died on Sunday in a helicopter accident
By Andrew Zerman | Staff Writer
It was approximately 10 a.m. on Jan. 26 when a helicopter crashed near Calabasas, Calif.
First responders arrived as quickly as possible, but there were no survivors. The debris scattered a quarter of an acre and caused a fire that lit the surrounding region.
Nine lives were claimed in this tragedy, but one stood out well above the rest and caused worldwide mourning that has yet to subside.
The accident caused the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, a lifetime Los Angeles Lakers superstar and soon-to-be Hall of Famer, whose influence extended well beyond the game of basketball.
Former athletes and notable public figures took to social media to share their thoughts about how Kobe’s influence impacted both their personal lives and the game of basketball.
Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal took to Twitter, referring to Kobe as “a family man” and “being much more than an athlete.”
In a reference to the conflicts that the two had in the early 2000s, he added that he “loved him like a brother” and “even brothers fight sometimes.”
Former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, who coached both Kobe and O’Neal, notoriously called Kobe “uncoachable” in his autobiography. He made amends with Kobe, however, saying that their relationship “transcended the norm” and “he went beyond the veil.”
Kobe was an avid supporter and promoter of women’s basketball, as he had four daughters of his own. His second oldest, Gianna, who was 13, was also a victim of the crash.
He was frequently seen courtside at the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA games. League commissioner Cathy Engelbert echoed his dedication to women’s basketball, stating that “Kobe’s support for the WNBA and women’s basketball, along with his passion for helping young girls and boys follow their dreams made him a true legend for our sport.”
Kobe’s death had a profound impact on former president Barack Obama.
Obama and Kobe had met on multiple occasions, most notably in the White House after the Lakers won the NBA championship in the 2009-10 season. “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” Obama noted on Twitter. “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents.”
Following his untimely passing, teams across the league partook in acts of commemoration in Kobe’s honor.
Teams intentionally took twenty-four second and eight-second violations to represent the numbers he wore during his playing career.
Moments of silence were also held prior to the games and it led many NBA players and fans alike to shed tears.
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, vowed to retire Kobe’s No. 24, stating that “no Maverick will ever wear the No. 24 again” and “what Kobe did transcended basketball.”
The sudden passing of Kobe Bryant led people to realize the human condition — the shortness of life and how tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Players such as O’Neal showed regret for past conflicts with Kobe and it was not until his death that they made complete amends.
There is a lot to learn amid this tragedy about life itself and Kobe was never one to shy away from talking about living every day like it’s your last.