Oregon women's basketball star Sabrina Ionescu was in tears before Sunday's game against Oregon State as she mourned the loss of her friend Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.
TMZ was the first to report that Bryant was on a helicopter when it went down in the hills of Calabasas and a fire broke out. The crash occurred before 10 a.m. PT, and the fire made it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the aircraft, according to the Los Angeles Times. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters that nine people were on board the aircraft—the pilot plus eight people.
Oregon and Oregon State players met at halfcourt for a moment of silence before the game. Ionescu was not with the group on the court. When she appeared about 10 minutes before the game, she was crying.
Bryant has praised Ionescu's play in the past and tweeted about her as recently as 10 days ago.
After the game, Ionescu said, "This season's for him."
Kobe Bryant was an 18-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first-teamer, who led the Lakers to five NBA championships and scored 33,643 points in his 20-year NBA career. He retired after the 2015-16 season, having spent his entire career with the Lakers. The franchise retired his No. 8 and No. 24 jersey numbers in December 2017.
He was 17 years old when he was selected with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. He went on to become the Lakers' franchise leader in points, games played, three-pointers, steals and free throws.
More Coverage of Kobe Bryant's Death:
- Kobe Bryant, Daughter Die in California Helicopter Crash
- 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
- Breanna Stewart Mourns One of Her Greatest Supporters: Kobe Bryant
- Shaq Reflects on Kobe's Passing: "There’s No Words to Express the Pain"