Several Filipino athletes mourned the death of modern basketball icon Kobe Bryant after he figured in a helicopter crash with his teenage daughter on the way to a basketball game.
The retired Los Angeles Lakers legend was one of the fatalities in a crash that occurred in a hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles.
His daughter, 13-year-old Gianna “Gigi” Maria, also lost her life in the tragedy.
News of the crash came after Bryant was passed by current Lakers star player LeBron James for third in the all-time NBA scoring list in Philadelphia, the former’s hometown.
Bryant’s last tweet congratulated James for the milestone and urged the latter to keep moving the game “forward.”
The 41-year-old’s sudden death broke the hearts of the local sports community who expressed their grief and paid tribute to one of NBA’s greatest players.
Boxing champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who was visited by Bryant in 2011, honored the basketball legend in his Instagram account.
“The world lost a legend today but the impact and legacy he leaves behind will last forever!” the boxer-politician wrote as he shared a picture of him shaking hands with Bryant.
Professional volleyball player Alyssa Valdez mourned Bryant’s passing by sharing a black-and-white photo of the latter with Gigi and wrote, “This is too much. My heart.”
This is too much. My heart 💔 pic.twitter.com/TPYTrapyDS
— Alyssa Valdez (@AlyssaValdez2) January 26, 2020
PBA player and former Ateneo Blue Eagles athlete Kiefer Ravena honored Bryant, who he revealed was “one of the reasons” he pursued basketball in the first place.
“Lost for words. (Not) the news I wanted to hear when I woke up. Life’s short, man. Appreciate everybody around you to the fullest! Do not take anything for granted. You were one of the reasons I played the sport, Kobe. You are the reason why I want to be great,” the 26-year-old athlete said.
Ravena also retweeted a clip of Bryant’s Oscar award-winning animated short “Dear Basketball” that contained a poem the five-time NBA champion wrote when he announced his retirement before.
Lost for words. No the news i wanted to hear when i woke up. 😭 Life’s short man. Appreciate everybody around you to the fullest! Do not take anything for granted. You were one of the reasons i played the sport, Kobe. You are the reason why i want to be great. 😭 https://t.co/pvYRWd4Zm9
— Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena) January 26, 2020
Diego Dario, another PBA player and a former UP Fighting Maroon, also paid tribute to Bryant as he shared pictures of the basketball legend he calls his “hero” and “inspiration.”
“My hero. My inspiration. May your legacy live on forever. Rest In Peace,” the PBA player said.
— Diego Dario (@Diego5Dario) January 27, 2020
College basketball player Ricci Rivero of UP Fighting Maroons also mourned Bryant’s passing and shared pictures of him with the latter during the “Mamba Mentality Tour” in 2016.
— Ricci Rivero (@_ricciiirivero) January 26, 2020
Filipino-American PBA players also expressed their grief and honored the two-time Olympic gold medalist on their social media accounts.
The basketball legend
An 18-time NBA All-Star, Bryant won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and established himself as one of the greatest basketball players of his generation.
He joined the NBA straight out of high school and was recognized as the league’s “Most Valuable Player” in 2008.
Bryant was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist who played a key role in the United States’ Olympic triumph in 2008 and 2012 in Beijing and London, respectively.
The “Black Mamba” also mentored NBA stars such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Candace Parker after he officially retired from basketball.
Bryant was known for his intense work ethic, which has thoroughly inspired his fans and fellow NBA stars like James.