Updated: Jan 31, 2020
On Sunday afternoon, NBA Legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among 9 people killed in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. The former Los Angeles Lakers star aged 41, was taking his daughter to a travel basketball game. Amongst the other victims, were another parent and player. A Los Angeles County Sherrif's Department investigation into what caused the crash is still ongoing.
The shocking news came less than 24 hours after Bryant was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for 3rd place on the NBA all-time scoring list. Bryant now sits in 4th with 33,643 points.
8 NBA games were played Sunday, and all of them were dotted with tributes, such as moments of silence, teams taking 24 and 8-second violations, and Madison Square Garden being lit purple and gold.
Bryant's decorated career began in 1996 when he was drafted 13th overall straight out of high school, becoming the youngest player in NBA history at the time. He spent all 20 seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring after the 2015-16 NBA season. Both the numbers 24 and 8 are retired by the Lakers in honor of the brilliance of his career. 2020 will be his first year on the ballot for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and he is a virtual lock to be elected later this year.
Bryant's long list of career accolades includes 5 NBA Titles, 2 Finals MVPs, an NBA MVP in 2008, 18 NBA All-Star appearances, and being selected the All-NBA First Team 11 times. He led the NBA in scoring on two different occasions, while also being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team 9 times and winning two Olympic Gold Medals with Team USA.
Known for his impressive scoring ability and his legendary nickname of "The Black Mamba", this week marked the 14-year anniversary of his 81-point explosion against the Toronto Raptors, the second-most points scored in a game only behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100. Bryant spent his childhood idolizing Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan, making it even sweeter for him to pass him on the all-time scoring list in 2014 and win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1997.
Off the court, Bryant was a renaissance man of sorts. He took home an Academy Award in 2018 for the animated short "Dear Basketball" and created a New York Times Best Selling book series inspired by the classic Harry Potter series. Bryant was also known for his fluency in multiple languages including, English, Italian, and Spanish.
He is survived by his wife Vanessa and their 3 surviving daughters, Natalia 17, Bianka 3, and Capri 7 months.