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Tributes pour in for late Kobe Bryant

January 27, 2020

Famed athletes, politicians, and film stars paid tribute to NBA great Kobe Bryant, who has been killed in a helicopter crash. Former teammate Shaquille O'Neal said there were "no words to express the pain."

USA Basketball Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Nelson

The sudden and tragic death of NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant on Sunday triggered an outpouring of grief on social media, with famous figures around the world honoring the 41-year-old athlete.

NBA star and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal said he had "no words to express the pain," referring to Bryant as his "brother" and mourning the passing of Bryant's daughter.

"I love u and u will be missed" the former Laker tweeted.

Basketball legend and fellow Lakers veteran Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he would remember Bryant "as a man who was much more than an athlete."

"Kobe was an incredible family man, he loved his wife and daughters, and he was an incredible athlete, and a leader in a lot of ways," Abdul-Jabbar said in an online video. "Rest in peace, young man."

Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest NBA player of all time, said Bryant was "like a little brother" to him.

"He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force," Jordan said in a statement.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who had played for the LA Lakers for 13 seasons, pointed to Bryant's activism in fighting homelessness and promoting women's basketball.

"Terrible news!" US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, while his predecessor Barrack Obama described the NBA star "a legend on the court."

Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro voiced "support for the American people who mourn the death of a sports star, Kobe Bryant."

In an English-language tweet, Maduro said Bryant would "forever be remembered" as a legend.

Read more: The loss of a sporting legend Kobe Bryant

Fans gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the home of the LA Lakers, with images from the scene showing them laying wreaths. The venue is due to host the Grammy Awards that evening.

Fans gather in front of Staples Center
Kobe fans showed up at improvised memorial to Kobe Bryant in front of Staples Center, the home of the LA LakersImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Hartman

Neymar Jr. honors Bryant with a goal

Following reports of Bryant's death on Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors both took a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of Bryant, who wore number 24 while with the Lakers.

Brazilian football star Neymar
Brazilian football star Neymar dedicated his goal to Bryant, gesturing the number 24 to honor the NBA great's jerseyImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Spingler

Brazilian football star Neymar dedicated the goal he scored for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) against Lille to the late NBA star. NFL star Tom Brady, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, and other famous athletes also expressed their sadness over Bryant's passing.

Celebrities from other areas of public life also paid their respects to the 41-year-old athlete, including British move star Idris Elba and Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon. Mark Hamill, famous for playing Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, said Bryant's legend would "live forever."

Action star Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson tweeted a picture of Bryant and his daughter, with the caption: "Love is forever."

Actress Whoopi Goldberg expressed her condolences to Bryant's family, saying that the player was "hero to many including my grandson."

Kobe 'inspiring people around the world'

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver praised Bryant's "remarkable talent" and "absolute devotion to winning."

"He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals," the league officials said in a statement.

"But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to [his daughter] Gianna."

DW's Anthony Howard on Kobe Bryant death

dj/stb (dpa, Reuters)

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