It was a death so sudden — and so tragic — news about reverberated not just in the United States, but all over the world.
Kobe Bryant, the NBA MVP who had a 20-year-career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others on board.
LA officials have criticized TMZ, the celebrity news outlet for breaking the news before police were able to notify Bryant’s family of the tragedy.
Early Sunday, a 9-1-1 call was dispatched reporting a fire on the hillside of Calabasas about 50 km north of Los Angeles.
It turns out the cause of the fire was a crash of a helicopter that killed all nine of its passengers, including the pilot.
Authorities from the LA County sheriff could not officially reveal identities of those who perished. But ESPN already confirmed that two of the passengers were Bryant and his daughter Gigi.
Kobe and his daughter were on their way to the Mamba Academy, where Gigi was supposed to have a basketball tournament.
Social media was immediately flooded with reactions to the tragedy.
Fellow Laker legend Magic Johnson could not believe what happened to his friend.
As for Shaquille O’Neal — Kobe‘s partner in their first three NBA championships he could not find the words to say after the loss of his friend and Gigi.
Even Michael Jordan — one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and to whom Bryant was always compared to — said he treated Kobe like a younger brother and he will miss the conversations they had.
For the whole of Sunday, current Lakers superstar LeBron James has still been silent on the passing of Kobe.
On Saturday night, Kobe was in Philadelphia to witness LeBron surpass his all-time NBA scoring record.
Kobe even sent this very last tweet to congratulate LeBron.
As news broke out, thousands of fans immediately rushed to the Staples Center and set up a vigil for their idol.
An investigation by aviation authorities could take months — but the weather is expected to figure prominently in the cause of the crash.
Fog in the area was so bad that the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its helicopter fleet Sunday morning.
Video obtained by Reuters and taken minutes after the crash showed a hillside in the suburb of Calabasas shrouded in fog.
At the Staples Center, devastated fans have been flocking to honor the basketball legend.