Basketball fans around the world are mourning the death of American superstar Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in California, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. He was 41 years old.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star player. He won five NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals. He was widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The helicopter carrying Bryant and the others crashed into a hilly area in foggy conditions outside Los Angeles. Bryant lived south of Los Angeles and often used helicopters to travel around the area to save time and avoid Southern California traffic.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. It took place about 32 kilometers from Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy, a basketball training center in Newbury Park, California. Bryant was on his way to attend a youth basketball competition on Sunday with his daughter. Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, had four daughters.
When he retired from the NBA in 2016, Bryant was the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points. He is widely expected to be elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
The basketball world and the Los Angeles community reacted to Bryant’s death with an outpouring of sadness, disbelief and support.
In a statement, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Bryant was one of the greatest stars in the game. But he added, “he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.”
On Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump noted the "terrible news." He called Bryant “one of the truly great basketball players of all time” who was “just getting started in life.”
Two of the greatest players of all-time, Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, praised Bryant as one of the best to have ever played the game. His personal qualities off the basketball floor were also noted. “I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete,” Abdul-Jabaar tweeted.
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal tweeted, "I'm sick right now." He added: “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common.”
All-time basketball great Michael Jordan said in a statement Bryant was "like a little brother" to him. "Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling," the former Chicago Bulls star said. "We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much."
Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter that he was in disbelief and “heartbroken” over the loss of Bryant. “He was passionate about serving the homeless and was an advocate for women's basketball,” Johnson wrote. “Coaching his daughter’s basketball team brought him so much happiness.”
Italy's AC Milan soccer team, of which Bryant was a huge fan, called him "one of the greatest sportsmen of all time." The International Olympic Committee tweeted that Bryant will "always stay in our hearts."
Thousands of people gathered to remember the star outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Lakers play their home games. Some brought flowers and left messages. Many said they felt it was important just to be there to show support.
Currently, Bryant is number 4 on the NBA’s all-time leading scorer list. Los Angeles Laker player LeBron James passed him for number three on the list on Saturday.
Bryant tweeted his congratulations to James the night before the crash. “Continuing to move the game forward,” Bryant wrote. “Much respect my brother,” the tweet read.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and VOA News. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
inspire – v. to make someone feel that they want to do something and can do it
athlete – n. a person who is trained in or is good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength
conversation – n. a talk between two or more people
passionate – adj. showing a strong belief in something or a strong feeling about a subject
advocate – n. someone who supports a particular idea or way of doing things