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Thousands pay respect to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center

Thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles to mourn the passing of legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna with three others in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Images and videos began flooding social media of mourners paying their respects outside the arena after the 41-year-old Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. 

Fans brought flowers and left hats, jerseys and other memorabilia in a tribute to the former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star. 

The sad scene was taking place as the Grammy’s also were set to be held in the arena Sunday night.  

Fans began setting up a shrine to legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center on Sunday, after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Thousands began arriving outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Thousands began arriving outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Some fans were visibly emotional outside the Staples Center while paying respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Some fans were visibly emotional outside the Staples Center while paying respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Three devastated fans comfort each outside the Staples Center other over the loss of Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Three devastated fans comfort each outside the Staples Center other over the loss of Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others in a chopper crash that morning

A woman is comforted in the gathering of mourners outside the Staples Center Sunday, where thousands gathered to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant, 41, who died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

A woman is comforted in the gathering of mourners outside the Staples Center Sunday, where thousands gathered to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant, 41, who died alongside his daughter Gianna and three others in a chopper crash that morning

A woman prays among thousands gathered outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others in a chopper crash that morning

A woman prays among thousands gathered outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant on Sunday, after the former 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others in a chopper crash that morning

Dharma Brown, 8, of Los Angeles, writes a note to the late Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center

Dharma Brown, 8, of Los Angeles, writes a note to the late Kobe Bryant outside of the Staples Center

Mourners also were assembling outside other arenas, including New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. The arena’s exterior lights were changed to purple and gold to honor Bryant before Sunday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. 

Fans also were outside the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, which Bryant founded and was reported going to with his daughter for basketball practice. 

Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 struck a hillside amid heavy fog and immediately caught fire at around 10am.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas after a group of mountain bikers spotted the smoke.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Witnesses reported hearing the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down near the home of Kourtney Kardashian. 

A flight plan indicated the helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9.06am PST and the last signal was received from the aircraft at 9.45am. It was expected to land at San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte. 

Mourners also were assembling outside other arenas, including New York's famed Madison Square Garden. The arena's exterior lights were changed to purple and gold to honor Bryant before Sunday night's game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets

Mourners also were assembling outside other arenas, including New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. The arena’s exterior lights were changed to purple and gold to honor Bryant before Sunday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets

Kobe Bryant was headed to Mamba Academy,  which he founded in Thousand Oaks, for basketball practice when his helicopter crashed on Sunday, claiming the 41-year-old, his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others. Mourners are pictured outside the academy

Kobe Bryant was headed to Mamba Academy,  which he founded in Thousand Oaks, for basketball practice when his helicopter crashed on Sunday, claiming the 41-year-old, his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others. Mourners are pictured outside the academy

Jerseys, flowers and candles were placed outside the entrance to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousands Oaks, California, on Sunday. Kobe Bryant founded the academy and was reportedly on his way there before his helicopter crashed

Jerseys, flowers and candles were placed outside the entrance to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousands Oaks, California, on Sunday. Kobe Bryant founded the academy and was reportedly on his way there before his helicopter crashed

Fans dressed in their Kobe Bryant jerseys show up at the Mamba Sports Academy on Sunday, where the NBA legend was reportedly on his way before his helicopter crashed, killing the 41-year-old, his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others

Fans dressed in their Kobe Bryant jerseys show up at the Mamba Sports Academy on Sunday, where the NBA legend was reportedly on his way before his helicopter crashed, killing the 41-year-old, his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others

The outlet reported that one of the passengers killed was John Altobelli – a baseball coach at Orange County College.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that another player and parent were also on the helicopter. Their identities have not been confirmed.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters – Natalia, Bianca and Capri, who was born last summer.

A heartbreaking video of the deceased father-daughter duo attending a basketball game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets on December 21 resurfaced soon after the crash.

The crash site where Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter Gianna died when their helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday

The crash site where Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter Gianna died when their helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday

Rescuers are pictured moving in on the burning crash site where Kobe Bryant's helicopter went down on Sunday

Rescuers are pictured moving in on the burning crash site where Kobe Bryant’s helicopter went down on Sunday

Passersby stop to look at the crash site where Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died when their helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday

Passersby stop to look at the crash site where Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died when their helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday

Bryant appears to be teaching Gianna – a budding basketball star herself – a thing or two about the game while sitting courtside at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Gianna frequently shared photos of herself on the court on social media.

News of the NBA legend’s death sent shockwaves in the sports world and beyond – marking an abrupt ending to one of most indelible public lives in modern American history.

Bryant was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

The Philadelphia native was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft and spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP titles and 18 All-Star titles before retiring in 2016.

Bryant was on 15 All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams and represented the USA at the Olympics in 2008 and 2008.

A floral wreath honoring Kobe Bryant was set up outside of Staples Center in memory of Kobe Bryant, after the NBA star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others Sunday in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California

A floral wreath honoring Kobe Bryant was set up outside of Staples Center in memory of Kobe Bryant, after the NBA star died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and three others Sunday in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California

A basketball lies amid flowers at a makeshift shrine outside the Staples Center on Sunday in memory of retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash that same day alongside his daughter and three others

A basketball lies amid flowers at a makeshift shrine outside the Staples Center on Sunday in memory of retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash that same day alongside his daughter and three others

He was the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons and was the first and only player in Lakers history to have both of his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – retired.

He is currently ranked fourth for all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring.

The impact he had on fans was readily apparent in the hours after the news broke as mourners wearing his No. 8 and No. 14 began assembling outside the Staples Center, where the Grammy Awards were being held Sunday evening.

A fan holds a poster in memory of Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center on Sunday

A fan holds a poster in memory of Kobe Bryant outside the Staples Center on Sunday

Bryant’s death came one day after he was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

The unseated star congratulated James on Twitter during the Lakers’ 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

James had written ‘Mamba 4 Life’ and ‘8/24 KB’ on his sneakers in gold ink before the game to show respect for Bryant.

‘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.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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