Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski released a statement honoring Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna following their sudden deaths on Sunday.
Krzyzewski coached Bryant during his two Olympic gold medal victories with the U.S. national basketball team in 2008 and 2012.
"We have tragically lost one of the greatest sports figures of our time with the passing of Kobe Bryant," Krzyzewski said. "He was an incredibly gifted person who was universally respected."
Krzyzewski added that Bryant "cherished representing his country in a first-class manner playing the game he so loved."
Bryant was a member of the national team from 2008-12, a memorable run that included his participation in the "Redeem Team," which won the the gold medal in 2008 after falling short in 2004.
"The game of basketball is better today because of Kobe, and he deserves eternal appreciation for that," Krzyzewski said.
"He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport."
Krzyzewski added his remorse for the death of Bryant's daughter Gianna and all others on board the helicopter that crashed in California on Sunday. A total of nine people did not survive the crash, according to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
More Coverage of Kobe Bryant's Death:
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- For the Bryant Family, An Unimaginable Loss
- Kobe Bryant Left His Mark as a Generational Hero
- Sports World Reacts to Kobe Bryant's Sudden Death
- Remembering Kobe Bryant: Sports Illustrated Covers Through the Years
- Spurs-Raptors Open Game With Shot Clock Violations to Honor Kobe
- Shaq Reflects on Kobe's Passing: "There’s No Words to Express the Pain"