Devastating news befell basketball fans everywhere when former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was confirmed dead on Sunday, Jan. 26 after his helicopter crashed into the Los Angeles hills. The 41-year-old, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna "GiGi," and seven other victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
For 20 years as a Los Angeles Laker, Kobe heightened the sport of basketball and his legacy and "Mamba Mentality" touched not only players, but people all over the world. Retiring from the sport in 2016, Kobe continued to be great off the court, and moved on to the second phase of his legendary career.
Aside from having a successful basketball career, he is remembered as a family man. Kobe always spoke so highly about his wife Vanessa and their four children — Natalia, 17, the late GiGi, Bianka, 3, and Capri, seven months.
Following his NBA career, the doting father was looking forward to the next chapter in his life, which included venturing into the world of cinema, and like on the basketball court, he was excelling.
Kobe became the first professional athlete to win an Oscar.
How to watch Kobe Bryant's Oscar-winning short film 'Dear Basketball.'
In 2015, Kobe penned a poem for The Players' Tribune titled Dear Basketball, which became the basis for his animated film, which was released in 2017. The future Hall of Famer narrated the short film Dear Basketball: The Legend of Kobe Bryant, which was directed by Glen Keane.
The film expresses Kobe's love and dedication to the competitive sport since childhood.
And we both know, no matter what I do next, I'll always be that kid with the rolled up socks, garbage can in the corner, five seconds on the clock, ball in my hands.
Five... four... three... two... one...
Love you always,
In 2018, the 18-time All-Star won the Academy Award for "Best Animated Short Film."
You can watch the short film here.
Celebs remember the late Kobe Byrant.
Even if you didn't know Kobe personally, the NBA star touched many people's lives. After news broke of his tragic passing, celebs took to social media to pay their respects to the athlete and his family.
His close friend and former teammate Shaq tweeted: "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 [sic]."
Reese Witherspoon wrote, "Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well."
Many celebs echoed similar sentiments sharing their interactions with Kobe throughout the years, or their condolences to the Bryant family.
Basketball legend Magic Johnson posted this statement: "As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken."
Our hearts continue to go out to Kobe's family and friends during this difficult time.