Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California Sunday morning as first reported by TMZ. Bryant was among nine people in the helicopter, none of whom survived.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his three daughters, Natalie, Bianca and Capri.
He leaves behind a legacy that transcended basketball.
When Michael Jordan retired, a black hole engulfed the league where once its greatest star stood. In limbo, fans searched for the next great superstar to take his airness’ throne.
In stepped a kid from Philadelphia who answered the call by displaying 20 years of dominance while dawning the purple and gold. Bryant won five championships, earned 18 all-star selections and won the MVP in 2008.
Nobody served as a better ambassador of basketball to the world as Bryant strongly championed the WNBA and basketball abroad.
Bryant embodied the ultimate contradiction as a player because of his larger-than-life personality and talent that oftentimes made fans and opposing players wonder if he was even the same species, and yet he still somehow served as the patron saint of the underdog to every kid growing up who learned from him the only thing necessary for success is an unconquerable work ethic.
Who else managed to be so unapologetically vicious while remaining a class act?
Only a handful of athletes have ever reached the level of fame that could justify referring to them by their first name: LeBron, Michael, Shaq and Kobe. We hold ourselves to a first-name basis with someone on the Mount Rushmore of basketball.
That is why whenever anyone under the age of 30 crumbles up an old test, paper or expense report, they will shoot it into the nearest trash can and proclaim “Kobe!”