Jan. 26, 2020: Kobe Bryant is Mourned

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Kobe Bryant (L) and Michael Jordan

When the shocking news of the death of Bryant at age 41, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, near Los Angeles, broke at midday Pacific Time Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, his former teammates, fellow NBA greats and many in the music community shared their grief. The star’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also one of the fatalities.

Bryant played 20 seasons in the NBA, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. His teams won five NBA championships. He was an 18-time All-Star and became the youngest player in league history to pass 30,000 career points, which he accomplished at age 34 and 104 days.

Bryant’s death came one day after another NBA legend, LeBron James, passed him on the all-time NBA career scoring list, into third place. Bryant’s final tweet praised LBJ.

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I’m Not Ready but here I go. 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❤️🙏🏾

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Among Bryant’s other career highlights are two Gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Olympic basketball team, as well as an Academy Award in 2018 for Best Animated Short Film (for Dear Basketball). (Watch his acceptance speech below.)

On Jan. 29, Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, shared an image of Kobe and Gianna

Michael Jordan issued a statement: “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. I loved Kobe–he was like a little brother to me… 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.”

Bryant wore two different numbers during his celebrated Lakers career, #8 and #24.

When the San Antonio Spurs faced off against the Toronto Raptors on the day Bryant died, this happened…

On Jan. 27, at around 3:45 p.m. PT, the Lakers formally acknowledged Bryant’s passing, in a tweet that also announced that their next game, originally scheduled for Jan. 28, had been postponed.

Legendary actor and longtime Lakers fan Jack Nicholson, for decades a courtside fixture at the team’s home games, told CBS Los Angeles, “I sat right behind his jump shot on the left-hand side. I can see him going up and I can tell the first instant if it’s going in. We’ll think of him all the time and we’ll miss him. He was just one of those touched people.”

Tiger Woods said, “I grew up a die-hard Laker fan, it’s part of me, it’s all I remember. This is one of the most shocking, tragic days that I can ever remember.”

Julius Erving (aka “Dr. J”) played with Bryant’s father.

Fellow NBA legend and longtime basketball broadcaster Charles Barkley said, “I want to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all nine people killed in this tragedy. I really want to emphasize that in remembrance of the other seven people involved. For me, this is like losing a family member, to lose Kobe and his daughter, Gianna. Basketball is a close knit fraternity and I’m just sad. Really sad. My thoughts and prayers are with Vanessa and their girls, the Lakers family and every basketball fan around the world.”

Sportcasting legend Bob Costas told CNN: “He always came back (each season) having added something to his repertoire.”

A tearful fellow Lakers legend, Jerry West–also one of the greatest to play the game–said, “You see someone leave before [their] time. You shake your head and you wonder why.”

Spike Lee directed a 2009 film, Kobe Doin’ Work, about a single day in the star’s career. He posted several images of his friend, including this one.

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A POEM FOR KOBE BY LEMON ANDERSEN Let us all gather around And bid our farewells to the Beautiful game of the Black Mamba… For these are the last days Of a legendary fade away, As he Fades away back to Blackness, Let us scatter Purple and Gold roses Along the seas, across the Atlas As our hero takes on his final journey and Fades away back to Blackness… Back To the Lower Merion number dripping from his shoulders Glory hanging from the rim rumors spreading of a child’s love for winning While he remained shooting for perfection inside the hollows of an empty gym. Oh, how the critics spread word To and fro of His growing game how his glowing handles will only go so far Yet, all that mattered was his chase for the undying zone Not the stones they threw nor the stats they claimed Not even a nationwide repertoire… Just the chase, The impossible, A relentless will To Fight or Fly to fight through injuries, For the Black mamba believed pain is for the weak, And fear is a Lie, Believed to live in your legend You must be greater than the greatest of all nations To be written in history was not enough Like having his game written as the brightest star amongst the basketball constellations And so he faded Back to mastery remained Focused Always striking with a Venomous sting No matter how loud the rival crowds would yell you can hear the rattle of our Black Mamba from all of his championship rings, All the records shattered and he still picks up the glass All the years have gone And he still remained patiently waiting by the wooden war painted basketball court with his Fangs in the grass Waiting to fade back again one last time Waiting for one last season to strike one last liquid clutch from the silence of the three point line, One last season to leave the heroes journey in a beautiful Bliss as all must eventually go home and fade away back to Blackness.

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Bryant was selected posthumously on April 4 for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. Due to the pandemic, the annual enshrinement festivities were re-scheduled to May 13-15, 2021, at the Hall of Fame and Museum in Springfield, Mass.

Bryant will be part of a nine-member class that also features NBA legends, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

“Magic” Johnson paid tribute one year after Bryant’s death.

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