As I watched smoke went up from the wreckage of the helicopter, reality beckoned on me that the world will never see Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna in the court again. The 26th of January is a day that the world of basketball will never forget, and the rest of the world will remember it as sad.
Kobe was aboard a helicopter with eight others when it crashed in Calabasas, Los Angeles. The National Transportation Safety Board has commenced investigation into what happened to the SikorsKy S-76B. The tragic event happened on a hillside in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Orange County baseball coach, his daughter and wife, Gianna’s teammate, the teammate’s parents were among those killed. They were flying for a basketball game that’s scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Thousand Oaks.
Bryant was born in Philadelphia and showed his basketball prodigy while in high school. He was snapped up immediately after high school to join the NBA, making him one of the youngest players in the league’s history. He took the NBA by storm. At 34, Bryant made history; he became the youngest player in basketball history to beat the 30,000 point mark.
In 1996, Bryant was the youngest player in the NBA at the time, at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days. He went on to win two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball, and five NBA championships.
In 2018, Bryant became the first athlete to win an academy award and a basketball championship. He won the academy for his film ‘Dead Basketball’ which was based on a poem he wrote.
At 41, he has become a force to be reckoned with, and a great role model for many. Though his legacy wasn’t unblemished, he had some controversy. In 2003, Bryan he was accused of sexual assault by a 19 years old hotel attendant. He was arrested, but the case was eventually dropped and settled out of court, with Bryan issuing a public apology; saying he didn’t know that the girl “didn’t view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
He retired in 2016 after 20 years in the courts, and has been a great father to four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and Capri. He was married to their mother, Vanessa.
Upon the news of his death, eulogy and condolence messages have poured in from around the world.
The US president Donald Trump called it “terrible” news: “Report are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That’s terrible news. Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all.”
Former president Barack Obama tweeted: “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.”
Former president Bill Clinton and his wife said: “Hilary and I are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and all those who died in today’s helicopter crash. Kobe brought excitement and joy to basketball fans not just in Los Angeles, but all over the US and around the world. He was also a leader off the court, including in his advocacy for young people, especially the vulnerable and homeless – a passion I saw firsthand when I joined him and Vanessa for the opening of a housing project they and their foundation supported. Kobe Bryant lived a very large life in a very short time. But above all, he loved his family. Our prayers are with Vanessa, Natalia, Bianca and Capri, and all those who lost loved ones today.” The Clintons said.
Athletes from around the world are also sending their encomiums. Golfer Tiger Woods said: “The fire. He burns competitively hot and desire to win. He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor. Not too many guys can say that throughout NBA history. He would lock up on D. obviously; he was dominant on the offensive side. But any time he was in the game, he would take on their best player and shut them down for all 48 minutes. That was one of the more impressive things throughout his entire career. Then when he ruptured his Achilles and went to the foul line and made his shots, that is tough.”
Barcelona and Argentine footballer, Lionel Messi did not hide his sorrow at the news. He said: “I have no words… all of my thoughts are with Kobe’s family and friends. It was a pleasure to meet him and share good times together. A real genius has left us.”
Kobe Bryant was indeed a genius who got the world to stare at his moves, he will be greatly missed.