(WAFB) - As news broke that Kobe Bryant was suspected to be among 9 people killed in a plane crash Sunday, Jan. 26, athletes and other notable figures took to social media to express shock and share their condolences for the former NBA superstar.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy,” tweeted former LSU basketball player and Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man,” O’Neal wrote in a second tweet.
LSU football player Joe Burrow tweeted that some of his fondest sports memories were watching Bryant play in nationally televised games with his family.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees learned of Bryant’s reported death during a sideline interview.
“I know he inspired so many people in so many different ways. One of the great competitors of any generation. Not just with sports, but with the way that he approached a lot of things,” said Brees.
The New Orleans Pelicans held a 24-second moment of silence for Bryant at their match against the Celtics. Both teams also honored Bryant by taking a 24-second shot clock violation to start today’s game.
“Kobe’s transcendent performance on the court and fierce competitiveness inspired millions of fans around the world. We will always remember him as one of the game’s greatest players and his legacy as a global ambassador of the league will live on forever,” wrote a representative of the Pelicans organization in a statement.
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry commented on the passing of a legend as well.
“He was all about winning championships. The individual accolades and numbers didn’t mean anything to him if he didn’t win championships. That’s the competitiveness that he had. That’s what I always remember, he competed at such a high, high level, every night that he was out there. He’s just going to be missed. He was turning his daughter into the same competitor and basketball player. It was just good to see. I think he was in a great place in his life with retirement and everything and doing a lot of things that help him complete his life in the wake of basketball,” said Gentry.
Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond also released a statement after news of Bryant’s death broke.
“This is a very sad reminder to keep your loved ones close because tomorrow is not promised,” said Richmond.
Bryant’s last tweet was sent in support of NBA player Lebron James who recently passed Bryant on the NBA all-time scoring list.
The crash happened in the hills above Calabasas, Calif. about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Everyone on the helicopter died, according to officials.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the manifest showed nine people aboard the craft.
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