Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career spent entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41. According to American news outlet TMZ, Bryant's daughter Gianna Maria-Onore was also among the victims killed in the crash.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, a source told The Associated Press.
Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers' LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant's hometown.
"Continuing to move the game forward (at)KingJames," Bryant wrote in his last tweet. "Much respect my brother."
James wrote "Mamba 4 Life" on his shoe in reference to Kobe's nickname before Saturday's match against the Philadelphia 76ers, in which he passed the late NBA legend on the all-time list by scoring 29 points
Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game's most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA's All-Defensive teams.
He teamed with Shaquille O'Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
Many athletes, celebrities, politicians and sportspeople expressed sorrow upon the NBA legend's death.
U.S. President Donald Trump called the heartbreaking incident "terrible news" in a tweet.
Turkish sports club Galatasaray also extended condolences to family, friends and fans upon NBA legend Bryant's death.
"Deeply shocked and saddened by the untimely death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant," the club said in a tweet.
In 2011, Bryant visited Galatasaray's Türk Telekom Stadium; saying that the Yellow-Reds "earned another fan" and he knew coach Fatih Terim from the time when he played in Italy's Lega Basket Serie A pic.twitter.com/UacCL25QVU— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) January 26, 2020
In 2011, Bryant visited Galatasaray's Türk Telekom Stadium. In his visit, he said hat the Yellow-Reds "earned another fan" and he knew coach Fatih Terim from the time when he played in Italy's Lega Basket Serie A.
"There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother Kobe," longtime friend and NBA superstar O'Neal also said in a tweet.
"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. I'M SICK RIGHT NOW," he concluded.