Tears for Kobe Bryant: Stars pay tribute after basketball star's shock death in crash

27 January 2020, 08:50 | Updated: 29 January 2020, 20:22

Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash
Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. Picture: PA/LBC News

Tributes have been pouring in for Kobe Bryant following the LA Lakers star's tragic death in a helicopter crash in California.

The five-time NBA champion was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna when his private helicopter crashed and burned near Calabasas on Sunday morning.

Sports stars, A-list celebrities and politicians were today paying tributes to the LA Lakers legend.

Kobe's close friend and fellow basketball star LeBron James was seen in tears after learning of the tragedy.

A devastated LeBron James was seen weeping on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport last night after the LA Lakers arrived home to the news that their former teammate had died.

Twitter was inundated with tributes to the LA Lakers legend, with politicians, Hollywood A-listers and fellow sports stars among those to express their sorrow at the news.

Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed when their helicopter came down in thick fog near Los Angeles on Sunday morning.

Thousands of people gathered outside the Staples Centre in LA to pay their respects after the star's sudden, tragic death.

US President Donald Trump was among those to comment on the "terrible news," saying: "Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!"

Barack Obama called Bryant a "legend" and said it was "heartbreaking" to hear of the loss of his daughter.

"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," he wrote.

"Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

A live game between San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors was interrupted by news of the tragedy, with players allowing the 24-second shot clock - the same number Bryant wore for the LA Lakers - to run down in respect to the basketball hero.

Former teammate and fellow basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal mourned the death of his friend and Bryant's daughter.

He wrote: "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."

Actress and television personality Whoopi Goldberg said Bryant was a "hero" to her family in a tribute on Twitter.

"RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me and my family. My deepest condolences to his family," she said.

Actor Idris Elba wrote on Twitter: "Kobe is G. Will always be remembered. A sad day."

Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles posted a photo of the US gymnastics team with Bryant, saying: "Rest in peace Kobe".

US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paid tribute to Bryant and the other passengers of the helicopter.

She said on Twitter: "Deeply shocked at the news of Kobe Bryant and four others lost today. Sending all my thoughts to their families and loved ones in this devastating moment."

Singer Justin Bieber posted a photo of himself as a child with Bryant on Instagram.

He said: "It can't be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day! Love you man!"

Former England striker Gary Lineker wrote: "Oh no. How awful. One of the greatest sportsmen of our lifetime. Utterly tragic", while current England forward Raheem Sterling wrote: "Rest easy Legend".

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady said: "We miss you already Kobe", while retired NBA star Dwyane Wade wrote: "Nooooooooooo God please No!"

Actress Reese Witherspoon said she was "devastated" to hear the news of Bryant's death.

She said on Twitter: "Just devastated to hear about Kobe Bryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers and compassion to his family."

Former sprinter Usain Bolt tweeted: "Still can't believe ?@kobebryant."

Tennis player Andy Murray's Instagram story read: "This has hit me hard. Thinking of all his family, friends and colleagues."

Comedian Kevin Hart wrote on Instagram: "This honestly doesn't make sense....I just saw you man. This hurts my heart. God please place your hands on his family and help guide them thru this unbearable time. We love you forever man...Legends never die!!!! #MambaMentality #RIP."

In a second post, referencing the death of Bryant's daughter, he wrote: "I have no words...All I have is real tears....This is beyond heartbreaking...#prayingforthebryantfamily #RIPGianna #RIPKobe."

US footballer Alex Morgan tweeted: "My heart is heavy with the news of Kobe Bryant. Prayers go out to his family right now through this unthinkable time."

Former F1 driver Jenson Button tweeted: "Rest in peace Kobe. One of the best sportsmen/athletes that has ever lived. My heart goes out to his family and to all involved in this terrible accident #ripkobebryant."

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy tweeted: "RIP Kobe. My thoughts go out to your family."

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero tweeted: "Deeply saddened by the loss of #KobeBryant."