NBA icon and legend Kobe Bryant was killed on Sunday, 26 January. The helicopter that he was on board crashed into a rugged hillside in suburban Los Angeles, the home of the only team that he played for – the Los Angeles Lakers. The five-time NBA champion, double Olympic gold medallist and Oscar winner was travelling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna en route to her basketball training together with seven other passengers and crew. There was no survivor.
Investigations are ongoing over the cause of the crash, which happened amidst foggy weather conditions. Moments before the crash, the pilot received special clearance to fly in less than ideal visibility. The accident happened as the helicopter could not clear the top of a mountain by 20 to 30 feet. The helicopter was also found to lack a terrain awareness and warning system, which is recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board following a fatal crash in 2004. However, the exact cause of the crash is still unclear.
Tears, Tributes, Thanksgiving
News of the 41-year-old’s death sparked tributes and reactions from sports figures, celebrities, politicians and netizens around the world. The biggest names in sports took to social media to express their disbelief and remorse, including Usain Bolt and teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Multiple politicians including Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed their condolences. A moment of silence was held for Bryant in NBA games and The Grammy Awards.
Back home, street artists and fans also paid tribute to their local hero, painting murals around the streets of Los Angeles and gathering outside the Staples Center to honour him. Beyond his achievements, many recollected his character and legacy – his work ethic, impact on the basketball scene and his love for his family. Bryant’s wife also took to Instagram to thank the support that her family received during this time, urging others to donate to the MambaOnThree Fund set up to “help support the other families affected by the tragedy”. Kobe Bryant may have passed on, but his legacy continues to live in the hearts of many.