WNBA, sports world reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

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.

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)

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