Remembering An All-Time Great: Celebrity Tributes To Kobe Bryant

28 January 2020
Culture, Celebrity, Athletes, Kobe Bryant, Tribute, Basketball, LA Lakers, NBA, Grammy Awards 2020
Image: Getty

The tragic death of the former-NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter shocked the world

As the world’s best sporting stars are prone to do, their legacy extends beyond the arenas they frequent and becomes something larger than sport itself. After being invited into the living rooms of fans across the world through TV screens and laptop streams, their personality is a familiar one. And even after they’ve left the sport, their jersey number continues to be one emblazoned on clothing – even on skin.

Read more: Kobe Bryant dies at the age of 41

That Kobe Bryant was such a player is an understatement. The basketball superstar had a record-breaking career with the LA Lakers after being drafted to the NBA directly out of high school in 1996. For the 2007-8 season, he was the league’s Most Valuable Player, before being anointed MVP of the 2009 and 2010 finals series, and scoring a second-highest-ever 81-point game in 2006. Before retiring in 2016, Bryant also helped Team USA secure two Olympic medals.

During his career, Bryant earned the nickname Black Mamba, which later went on to become his brand as he continued to work hard off the court and pursue other endeavours. Many will remember his 2018 Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball, a reflection not only of his love of the game but his passion for storytelling. As Magic Johnson articulated after Bryant’s retirement, “There will never be another Kobe Bryant. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest that has ever played. I put him up there right below Michael Jordan as the two greatest scorers I’ve ever seen probably in the history of the game.”

It’s a statement that continues to resonate and after news broke Sunday about Bryant’s death, the world is now left reeling. Fans are in mourning, while families and friends grieve for loved ones lost in the helicopter crash that killed nine people. The 41-year-old Bryant died in the crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and a group of seven others, all making their way to a basketball academy where Bryant was to coach his daughter’s team.

Those in the sport were quick to express their grief for the tragic passing of Bryant and his daughter. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and countless other stars all paid tribute to the basketball legend. Michael Jordan’s statement read, “He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.”

NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal also paid tribute to the star, releasing a special episode of The BIG Podcast with Shaq. In it, Shaq revisits excerpts from his 2015 interview with Bryant, which saw the pair end their longtime feud.

As NBA games continued over the weekend, players, coaches and teams continued to pay their respects to Bryant and his family. Fighting tears, Kawhi Leonard said, “Knowing him personally, I know he would have wanted me to come out here and try to ball and still just be great and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”

Former President Barack Obama expressed his sympathies, tweeting: “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.”

And at the Grammy Awards, artists declared their love for the basketball star and his daughter. The night was dedicated to the NBA star, with Alicia Keys belting out “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” in the show’s opening, alongside Boyz II Men. Addressing the crowd, Keys said: “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. We’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe built.”

Bryant’s jersey was also worn during numerous performances, including an Aerosmith and Run DMC show of “Living on the Edge” and “Walk This Way” and Lil Nas X’s ensemble remix of “Old Town Road,” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, BTS, Diplo, Mason Ramsey, Young Thug and Nas.

The world is in mourning, and will be for a long time. But both Bryant and his daughter will never be forgotten and leave behind a legacy not just of incredibly sporting talent, but strong work ethic, an inspiring dedication, and most importantly: the love of family.

Via GQ Australia