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Kobe Bryant Obituary: basketball’s greatest star dies at 41

 The tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and three others in California on Sunday marks an abrupt ending to one of most indelible public lives in modern American history.

Bryant will certainly be remembered for his accomplishments, such as his five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, and for scoring more points than all but three players in league history. (He was actually surpassed by LeBron James on Saturday)

But Bryant’s most memorable quality was his unwavering self confidence.

Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships and 18 All-Star titles before he retired in 2016. He is pictured on the court in 2013

Magic Johnson, Jeanie Buss, Kobe Bryant, wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant, Bianka Bella Bryant and Rob Pelinka pose for a picture during Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony on December 18, 2017

Magic Johnson, Jeanie Buss, Kobe Bryant, wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant, Bianka Bella Bryant and Rob Pelinka pose for a picture during Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement ceremony on December 18, 2017

He jumped straight from a Philadelphia high school to the NBA Draft at 17, forgoing college at a time when predominant wisdom dictated that prospects develop their game at the NCAA level. And although he couldn’t even vote when his NBA career began in 1996, he refused to kowtow to his veteran teammates, famously feuding with Shaquille O’Neal over the All-Star center’s conditioning and dedication.

‘I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,’ James told reporters of Bryant on Saturday. ‘There’s no substitution for work.’

Even at the end of his career, when a battered 37-year-old Bryant and the Lakers finished just 17-65, the 18-time All-Star gave a fitting farewell, dominating the Utah Jazz in his final game while scoring 60 points — the most by any player in the NBA that season.

Bryant’s self-assuredness continued into his post-playing career.

Bryant was believed to be flying in the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter he'd used to travel for years. He is seen preparing to board the private chopper in Los Angeles in April 2013

Bryant was believed to be flying in the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter he’d used to travel for years. He is seen preparing to board the private chopper in Los Angeles in April 2013

In addition to his vast endorsement deals, Kobe established his own sports brand, Kobe Inc., and saw his share in the business get a reported $200 million valuation in 2018.

That same year he produced an animated short film, ‘Dear Basketball,’ that ultimately won an Oscar – one of the innumerable awards that found their way to Bryant.

Naturally, Bryant did not have any humble origins.

Born in Philadelphia to 76ers forward Joe ‘Jellybean’ Bryant and Pamela Cox, the sister of another NBA player, Kobe’s life was inextricably linked to basketball, and not just in the United States.

After a solid eight-year NBA career, Joe moved the family to Italy when Kobe was just six to continue playing professionally.

It was there that Bryant learned to speak Italian fluently, scoured the NBA highlight videos his grandfather sent him from the U.S., and rooted for his father’s teammate, current Houston Rockets and former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.

Throughout it all, basketball remained a constant in Bryant’s life

Everyone on board the helicopter was killed when it crashed in the hills near Calabasas

Everyone on board the helicopter was killed when it crashed in the hills near Calabasas

Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department responded to reports of the crash near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas at around 10am

Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of the crash near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas at around 10am

His family moved back to Philadelphia at the end of his father’s basketball career. The younger Bryant attended Lower Merion High School, where his jersey is now retired, and by his senior year had become a national sensation.

The Lakers traded star center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for a Bryant’s draft rights in 1996, and the budding superstar rewarded Los Angeles by winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award as a rookie.

Bryant was a starter by his second season, and when coach Phil Jackson brought the famous triangle offense to the Lakers in 1999, Los Angeles came back to prominence, winning three consecutive titles.

Even after the team traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat, the Lakers re-loaded with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, helping Bryant to win another two NBA titles in 2009 and 2010.

But Bryant’s life had its valleys along with its peaks.

He suffered an Achilles tendon injury at 34 that more or less ended his days as an elite NBA player.

More infamously, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in 2003 by a 19-year-old woman working at a Colorado resort, where he was recovering from surgery. Bryant claimed the sex was consensual and prosecutors dropped the charges at the request of the accuser after a reported deal was struck.

The incident became tabloid fodder as Bryant gave his wife Vanessa a ring reportedly worth $4 million as an apology.

But Bryant still managed to repair his image, and even became known as doting father to his four daughters.

Bryant is seen with wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia and Gianna in February 2018

Bryant is seen with wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia and Gianna in February 2018

In fact, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, Bryant was on his way to see daughter Gianna play basketball when his helicopter crashed, killing her, a teammate and a parent. (Bryant’s other three children and wife were not on the helicopter)

The cause of the crash has not been determined, and it’s not clear if or when those questions may be answered.

What was readily apparent after the crash, however, was the impact that Bryant had on his fans, particularly those in Los Angeles.

According to multiple reports, mourners wearing Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys began assembling on Sunday evening outside Staples Center, where the Grammy Awards were being held.

Bryant’s image already dots many of the murals throughout the city.

Even James felt compelled to honor Bryant on Saturday as he surpassed him on the all-time scoring list. Referencing his nickname, James wrote ‘Mamba 4 Life’ and ‘8/24 KB’ on his sneakers.

‘It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,’ James told reporters in Bryant’s home town of Philadelphia on Saturday. ‘Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration.

‘It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling.’

James is just one of the people that Bryant inspired, and judging by the outpouring of sorrow on the streets of Los Angeles, he is in considerable company.

‘Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,’ Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti wrote on Twitter.

‘Kobe was not only an icon in the sports arena, he was a man of the world and touched so many lives and communities in the most positive ways,’ said Hall of Famer Larry Bird. ‘His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others – his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in everything he accomplished.’

Stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant after tragic crash

Dozens of celebrities have taken to social media to express their shock over Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash.  

Khloe Kardashian tweeted: ‘This can’t be real, there’s no way!!! My heart hurts.’

In another tweet, she wrote: ‘Please don’t let this be True. I’m shaking.’ 

Tristan Thompson was quick to tweet that ‘I hope this isn’t true man!!’ upon hearing the news that the 41-year-old was one of five people killed in the crash.

Khloe Kardashian wrote: 'This can't be real, there's no way!!! My heart hurts.'

Khloe Kardashian wrote: ‘This can’t be real, there’s no way!!! My heart hurts.’

Tristan Thompson was quick to tweet that 'I hope this isn't true man!!' upon hearing the news that the 41-year-old was one of five people killed in the crash

Tristan Thompson was quick to tweet that ‘I hope this isn’t true man!!’ upon hearing the news that the 41-year-old was one of five people killed in the crash

Demi Lovato shared a shot with the Lakers legend at the Staples Center: ‘This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will he so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe.’

Bella Hadid posted a photo of Kobe reading the Los Angeles Times sports section while traveling with the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, likely from the back-to-back titles in 2010. 

‘I can’t believe this…Rest in Peace King…. thinking about Vanessa and their beautiful children during this time….,’ she wrote.

Travis Barker, who lives nearby in the upscale Southern California neighborhood, simply tweeted: ‘RIP KOBE.’

Khalid wrote: ‘RIP Kobe. This is heartbreaking unbelievable.’

A$AP Rocky shared on social media: ‘RIP KOBE, SO SAD, SUCH A SAD DAY N SAD NEWS, WE LOVE U.’ 

Chrissy Teigen was shocked and could not believe ‘this is real’ upon hearing the news that Bryant died. 

Lance Bass shared a photo of the notable guard wearing his iconic purple and gold uniform with the caption: ‘No words.’ 

Demi Lovato shared a shot with the Lakers legend at the Staples Center: 'This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will he so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe'

Demi Lovato shared a shot with the Lakers legend at the Staples Center: ‘This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will he so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe’

Bella Hadid posted a photo of Kobe reading the Los Angeles Times sports section while traveling with the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy, likely from the back-to-back titles in 2010

Bella Hadid posted a photo of Kobe reading the Los Angeles Times sports section while traveling with the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, likely from the back-to-back titles in 2010

Travis Barker, who lives nearby in the upscale Southern California neighborhood, simply tweeted: 'RIP KOBE.'

Travis Barker, who lives nearby in the upscale Southern California neighborhood, simply tweeted: ‘RIP KOBE.’

Khalid wrote: 'RIP Kobe. This is heartbreaking unbelievable'

Khalid wrote: ‘RIP Kobe. This is heartbreaking unbelievable’

A$AP Rocky shared on social media: 'RIP KOBE, SO SAD, SUCH A SAD DAY N SAD NEWS, WE LOVE U'

A$AP Rocky shared on social media: ‘RIP KOBE, SO SAD, SUCH A SAD DAY N SAD NEWS, WE LOVE U’

Chrissy Teigen was shocked and could not believe 'this is real' upon hearing the news that Bryant died

Chrissy Teigen was shocked and could not believe ‘this is real’ upon hearing the news that Bryant died

Lance Bass shared a photo of the notable guard wearing his iconic purple and gold uniform with the caption: 'No words'

Lance Bass shared a photo of the notable guard wearing his iconic purple and gold uniform with the caption: ‘No words’

  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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