January 26, 2020 will be remembered as one of the most tragic days in sports history.
It began with a TMZ report (that could be considered irresponsible since it occurred before family could be notified) regarding a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area. That same report said that the wreck had taken the lives of all that were aboard – and that one of those aboard Kobe Bryant – future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and an icon of not only sports, but pop culture.
Anyone and everyone who first saw the initial reports were hoping that they were not true – that there had to be a mistake. No way this could be happening and no way this could be real.
But as time went on, the more apparent it was that it was real – we had lost a titan of sports.
And after a cavalcade of misinformation regarding Rick Fox and his daughters (side note – it quickly evolved into a story where journalism itself needed to do a lot of soul searching), a police press conference took place that revealed one of those on board was his daughter, GiGi.
Two of Gianna’s teammates were also among those that died as well as two parents of one said teammates and another of the other plus the pilot. One of the victims was identified as a girls basketball coach for a school in Orange County and another was a baseball luminary and coach also from Orange County.
— TV One (@tvonetv) January 27, 2020
When people think of Kobe Bryant, they of course remember his basketball accomplishments, which include the 18 All-Star appearances and the five NBA championships – all with the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent his whole career with the Lakers after being selected in the 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets, then was sent to Los Angeles in a trade.
Even more gut-wrenching was the “second act” many have referenced that he was just getting started. That second act was supposed to include forays into media, movies, philanthropy and carrying on the Bryant basketball legacy – most notably through GiGi who had WNBA hoop dreams.
Remember – he was ready to leave basketball behind. The game was never going to completely leave him, as competitive as he was. But his reintroduction to the game came through Gianna, who we saw regularly with her father at WNBA and NBA games.
We should still be talking about what Kobe’s next post-basketball move will be. We should talking about seeing his daughter in a UConn uniform playing for Geno Auriemma, then a Sparks uniform one day, playing at the same arena – Staples Center – and the same court that made the elder Mamba famous.
Instead – both, along with the seven others, are tragically gone way too soon.
Since the shocking news became known, reaction has poured in from inside and outside sports.
L.A. doesn’t feel like L.A. without him.
–Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti (“Keyshawn, LZ and Travis”, 710 ESPN)
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/QA7l3VTRNe
— WNBA (@WNBA) January 26, 2020
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement today regarding the passing of Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/P88GwIwmYV
— NBA (@NBA) January 26, 2020
— Tamika Catchings (@Catchin24) January 27, 2020
Sabrina Ionescu mourns her friend Kobe Bryant ahead of her game against Oregon State. pic.twitter.com/urdYuFSNW5
— espnW (@espnW) January 26, 2020
#RT @VirginiaSports: RT @UVAWomensHoops: “My heart is really heavy”@IamTinaThompson sends her condolences to the Bryant family in a heartfelt and emotional statement during today’s postgame presser #RIPKobeBryant #RIPGiGi 💔 pic.twitter.com/yYrkINCa6Y
— UVA Sports Report (@wtfuva) January 27, 2020
We have lost more than a basketball player today. We lost a legend, my friend and my brother! We have also lost a part of our future with GG gone too soon💔💔💔💔💔💔💔Prayers for all the family 🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Lisa Leslie (@LisaLeslie) January 26, 2020
Wait. No. Wait. Not Kobe. Wow.
— Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) January 26, 2020
This is one of those days everyone will remember where they were when we lost a legend. Kobe an amazing basketball player but even better husband, father, friend, MENTOR. It doesn’t seem real. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families.
— Candace Parker (@Candace_Parker) January 27, 2020
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LA_Sparks) January 27, 2020
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) January 26, 2020
— Chicago Sky (@wnbachicagosky) January 27, 2020
At a loss for words, RIP to a legend. Can’t believe this. #Kobe
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 26, 2020
Voice gone and all but NO ONE supported us like you did 💜🙏🏽 thank you and Gigi for all the genuine love! Praying for everyone who was impacted by this heartbreaking news! pic.twitter.com/E05NMAKdh1
— A’ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) January 26, 2020
Lights for a legend.
Los Angeles City Hall lit in purple and gold starting at 8:24 p.m. this evening in honor of Kobe Bryant’s storied championship career and in memory of Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and all who perished in today’s tragedy. pic.twitter.com/1una7Aj98Z
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) January 27, 2020
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) January 27, 2020
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Counting my blessings this am but still in an incomprehensible state. I’ve known Kobe since his Lower Merion days. @JLEnterprises when he was the @sixers coach allowed us to take part in practices at @saintjosephs. Watched a fearless confident stud of a hs player hold his own.💔
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) January 27, 2020
A father. A husband. A legend.
His time was too brief, but his legacy everlasting. RIP Kobe.
Sending love to the Bryant family and all those affected by today’s heartbreaking news. pic.twitter.com/xLnPPq551T
— MercedesBenzStadium (@MBStadium) January 27, 2020
Kobe once lit up the Raptors. Tonight the CN Tower in Toronto is lit – in Lakers purple and gold for the late great K Bryant. https://t.co/y7GEl3HWRc
— Tom Harrington (@cbctom) January 27, 2020
Madison Square Garden is lit up in Purple & Gold in honor of Kobe Bryant 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/X7uG6QOM2X
— HOT 97 (@HOT97) January 26, 2020
My heart is completely broken for Vanessa, the entire Bryant family, and all those on board. A father, husband, philanthropist, and one of California’s most brilliant icons, Kobe transcended sports.
Let’s all hold those we love a little tighter today and every day.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 26, 2020
Deeply shocked at the news of Kobe Bryant and four others lost today.
Sending all my thoughts to their families and loved ones in this devastating moment. https://t.co/1bgEhj2AhA
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 26, 2020
A champion for women’s basketball and an advocate for equality, Kobe Bryant was an extraordinary athlete who’s legacy will continue to resound. The Lord’s peace to his family and loved ones. https://t.co/flICBotMb9
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) January 27, 2020
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020