The news sent shockwaves online, with fans, athletes and celebrities taking to Twitter to mourn the beloved 41-year-old basketball superstar.
A large crowd also gathered outside Staples Center Sunday afternoon to mourn Bryant.
One of them brought along a poster he said has been with him since childhood.
“I’ve had this poster on my wall, everywhere that I’ve lived, since I was a kid,” the man said. “I’m 30 years old.”
He added that Kobe’s impact stretched beyond being a basketball star.
“He wasn’t just a Laker. He represented us,” he told KTLA. “He was L.A. He was a hero, a role model to a lot of us that didn’t have role models.”
NBA star Michael Jordan said in a statement that he was in shock after hearing of the helicopter crash.
“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe— he was like a little brother to me,” Jordan said as he called Bryant a “fierce competitor” and “one of the greats of the game.”
Bryant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal said he was feeling sick after hearing of the “tragic” death of Bryant and his daughter.
“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. We love our families. Whenever we got together I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his,” O’Neal said.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement responding to Bryant’s death, saying the basketball “will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles.”
“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,” the mayor said.
Governor Gavin Newsom and his partner Jennifer Siebel called Bryant’s death “tragic and untimely.”
“In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he made history with raw talent and unparalleled dedication that raised the bar and paved the way for a newer generation of players,” the governor’s statement said, also praising the basketball star’s efforts to help families through his foundation.
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Statement from Michael Jordan: pic.twitter.com/oI7w6e7HLI
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) January 26, 2020
As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/X2vF0M0a1u
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
We miss you already Kobe ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 26, 2020
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These picture are just the tip of the iceberg of our relationship. He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court. On the court he taught me how to carve out defenses and how to take my time. How to make winning my ultimate goal. Off the court he taught me to sign my own checks lol. Of course anyone who knows my story knows I’ve suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son. Even though our relationship wasn’t father/son, it was more like him being a teacher and me being his brother. I’m glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure. I couldn’t even catch my breath today when I heard this news. I just knew if he was in a helicopter crash he would have been the one to survive. Somehow he would have jumped out and landed on his feet. I’m sitting here thinking about when we would be in practice scrimmaging and you would start the jump ball off with elbowing Sasha in the chest. Like dude it’s 10:30 in the morning lol. You think watching him play was crazy, you gotta think in practice if you scored like 8-9 buckets throughout the practice you had a great practice. I’ve seen him knock off 13-14 in a row in practice!!!! I’m still waiting for the media to come out and say wrong report. No way God took my brother this early. I know I been through my own stuff in life with using drugs and not being good to myself. When I went through that Coma situation if God would have came to me and said we would take me and spare Kobe I would have rather that happened. In honor of my brother I’m up at 4am tomorrow to get to the gym! Gigi gone give you buckets!!!! I love you brother 💔🙏🏿😥 @kobebryant
Please no. Please god no. It can’t be true.
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 26, 2020
Can’t be true.
Just can’t be.
Truly truly horrific.
Rest In Peace Kobe.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 26, 2020
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. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
Kobe, We love you brother
We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave pic.twitter.com/pxbgLOOmpY
— ye (@kanyewest) January 26, 2020
R.I.P. Kobe Bryant. A great, a legend, someone to truly idolize. My condolences go out to his family and to the families of those who lost their lives as well.
— Tavon Austin (@Tayaustin01) January 26, 2020
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 26, 2020
Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
💔I will never forget this moment.. Your impact on the game, your impact on sports. An inspiration, a legend, an icon, the Goat. RIP Kobe pic.twitter.com/Hf7oMbGvxo
— Chloe Jackson (@Clj_0) January 26, 2020
This is the worst news. Kobe is an all-time great who had his entire life ahead of him. My heart goes out to his family, his fans and the millions of people whose lives he touched. Today Kobe is the greatest of all time. 🙏🏀 https://t.co/saR4dJ7412
— Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) January 26, 2020
We can never forget how precious life is. How those who are special to you and never let them forget how deeply you love them
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 26, 2020
Kobe was a real life super hero on that court & I’m sure he was one to his family. Sending love and prayers to them. This is heartbreaking.
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) January 26, 2020
Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 26, 2020