The sports world came to a screeching halt Sunday when TMZ reported that basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, 41, had died in a helicopter crash in Southern California.
The world lost an NBA legend, a father, a coach and an entertainment icon all in one.
Gianna Bryant, Kobe’s 13-year old daughter, was killed in the accident, too.
The former Los Angeles Laker was traveling to a youth basketball game with Gianna and several others when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
Bryant, a Philadelphia native and son of former 76er Joe Bryant, spent much of his childhood living in Italy as his father played professional basketball overseas.
Bryant returned to the United States following his father’s retirement in 1991 and played basketball at Lower Merion High School.
After Bryant entered the 1996 NBA draft at just 17 years old, the Charlotte Hornets drafted him 13th overall and subsequently traded him to the Lakers.
In his 20-year stint with the Lakers, Bryant won five NBA Championships, was named league MVP in 2008 and made 18 All-Star teams.
Bryant famously scored 81 points — the second-most in a game in NBA history — against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
On an international stage, Bryant won gold medals with the USA Basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics.
Bryant grew basketball among an entire generation of fans; his ascent to greatness was synonymous with the NBA’s spike in popularity in the early 2000s.
Bryant is the only player to have two numbers retired by the same franchise. He donned No. 8 for the first half of his career and No. 24 during the latter half.
Following Bryant’s career on the court, he ventured into the world of entertainment.
In 2017, he wrote, narrated and directed his own animated short, “Dear Basketball,” for which he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Bryant had managed his multimedia company, Granity Studios, which produced the series “Detail” on ESPN+ and “The Punies” podcast.
Bryant also coached Gianna’s basketball team over the past two years, a hobby for which he showed great passion.
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa and their daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.