BOSTON — On Sunday morning, the world lost one of it’s most esteemed athletes.
Kobe Bryant, 41, an 18-time NBA All-Star, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, around 10 a.m., along with his daughter, Gianna Bryant, 13. John Altobelli, former coach of the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa were also killed in the crash.
In total, nine people died.
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The entire Cape League family is deeply saddened by the loss of former Brewster Whitecaps’ coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa in the tragic helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, among others. We send our deepest condolences to the Altobelli family, with gratitude for the countless lives they touched.
We are heartbroken and shocked to learn that our former head coach, John Altobelli along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa passed away this morning in the helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.— Brewster Whitecaps (@WhitecapsCCBL) January 26, 2020
Gianna and Alyssa were teammates at the Mamba Academy, a youth sports academy Kobe Bryant launched in 2018. They were flying from Orange County to Thousands Oaks to attend a game.
“I don’t know if anyone worked harder than he did, with the talent to match.”— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) January 27, 2020
Harold Miller tells me he played against #KobeBryant multiple times when they were teens in AAU. He’s devastated by the news @boston25
News of Bryant’s death and the helicopter crash put a somber feel over Boston High School’s basketball invitational in Dorchester Sunday night. They paused for a moment of silence before the games.
“You can tell the players, they’re physically, their faces dropped, their disposition dropped,” said Khari Roulhac, coordinator of the event.
Many of these young athletes watched Bryant play throughout their entire lives and were excited to watch him in his future endeavours.
“I wanted Kobe Bryant to grow old and be one of the greats and mentor young basketball players such as ourselves,” said Myles Avalon, a BHS team captain.
Bryant proved to young men and women across the world that you can do anything -- and just because you’re great at one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t excel in other areas.
Holding five NBA titles with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, and an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” Bryant was also a loving husband and father of four daughters.
“This is just devastating,” said Harold Miller, who said he played against Bryant in AAU basketball.
“I looked at him as someone younger back then, but then I started really admiring him and really just respecting the effort and hard work he put forth toward the game.
“It was amazing to see how hard he worked because the Celtics beat them that first time and he just continued to be relentless," Miller said. "If there is anything we could learn through him and how hard it worked -- I mean I don’t think, it may sound cliche, but I’m not sure if there was any other NBA player who worked harder than Kobe Bryant.”
At the Celtics’ game Sunday night at New Orleans, and across the NBA, arenas held a moment of silence for Bryant and teams took a 24-second violation at the start of their games in honor of him. Fans paid tribute to him at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and outside of TD Garden in Boston, which lit up Laker purple.
After their loss, Celtics players reacted to the tragic news.
Celtics guard Kemba Walker said, “Kobe is a guy who’s impacted so many lives and so many basketball players. To hear the news about him and his daughter today, it’s tough."
Forward Jaylen Brown echoed, saying, “I woke up from a nap today and I don’t think I’ll ever forget where I was at, what time it was and things like that because that was the last thing you wanted to hear.”
Forward Gordon Hayward said, “That’s why every time you leave you want to say goodbye. It’s tough. It’s really tough.”
Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, scoring 33,643 points, retiring after the 2015-16 season. His last game at the Garden was in December 2015. He came out to cheers of fans chanting his name, and after the Lakers upset the Celtics, fans once again cheered his name as he left the court.
One of the Celtics’ biggest rivals, Bryant was still well-respected by Boston. The organization sent numerous tweets honoring the legend after news broke:
Kobe was one of the greatest talents and competitors to ever play basketball, and his love of the sport inspired countless fans and players around the world. (2/4)— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 26, 2020
Our fans were fortunate to watch him as he contributed many memorable chapters to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, which he treasured. (3/4)— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 26, 2020
We extend our deepest condolences to Kobe’s family, fans, and the entire Lakers organization, as well as all of the victims and families affected by this horrible tragedy. (4/4)— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 26, 2020
Athletes from the city of champions as well as local prominent figures expressed their condolences to the Bryant family and honored the late player on social media.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who had just spent the offseason training with Bryant and was mentored by him, was emotionally devastated and on Instagram wrote:
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Heart broken. My Hero. My Idol. The reason I started to play this game, the reason I fell in love with this game. Growing up wanting to be just like you, to you becoming a mentor, beyond thankful for everything you’ve done for me. “I didn’t have a plan B I put all my eggs in one basket and I knew I was going to make it happen” hearing you say that stuck with me everyday of my life. You inspired me and I am forever grateful more than you know! Love you Bean 🙏🏽❤️! Sad, sad, sad day RIP Kobe and Gianna! Praying for the family!
What a sad day today. @kobebryant you’re a legend. I remember being in the front row of a Celtics-Lakers game & u came by shouting my name. It put a huge smile on my face- such an honor to be recognized from the greatest. You’ll be missed. Sending my love & prayers to your family pic.twitter.com/LLcDv9VKLT— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) January 26, 2020
RIP to the legend. Terrible terrible news. Thoughts are with the family. #MambaForever pic.twitter.com/dd1FMyKqQ7— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) January 26, 2020
I couldn’t guard him. No one could. He’s an All-Star in Heaven too. Praying for the whole family. I’m in shock. pic.twitter.com/xdGAgi5seM— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) January 26, 2020
Former Celtics great Bill Russell tweeted a message to the Bryant family expressing his and his wife Jeannine’s condolences for their loss.
Jeannine & I are absolutely shocked to hear of the loss of one of my favorite people & one of the best basketball minds in the history of the game! Our hearts & prayers to Vanessa & his girls. @kobebryant you were my biggest fan, but I was yours #RIPMAMBA @NBA @espn @SLAMonline pic.twitter.com/Ll0BD6VWgr— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 26, 2020
Former Celtics star Paul Pierce tweeted twice, saying, “this is not real right now,” and saying he named his son after him.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley also took to Twitter to share their messages of love for the family and respect for Bryant. Pressley tweeted a heart-warming photo of Bryant with his daughter, Gianna.
Thank you #KobeBryant for normalizing the pursuit of greatness. Constantly striving as an athlete, as a man, as a father. Sending prayers up for Vanessa, the Bryant family and to the families of every single person that perished in this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/bXjAm9Eiou— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 26, 2020
Sad to hear the news about Kobe Bryant, his daughter and all the other victims involved in the tragedy this morning. My heart goes out to all the victims’ families.— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) January 26, 2020
Let us all hold our loved ones close, life is so precious.
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