Former United States President Barack Obama shared a heartfelt tribute to Kobe Bryant after the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California on Sunday morning.
TMZ was the first to report that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among those on the helicopter when it went down in the hills of Calabasas and a fire broke out. The crash occurred before 10 a.m. local time, and the fire made it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the aircraft, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," Obama wrote on Twitter. "To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."
Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers visited Obama in the White House in 2010 to celebrate the team's 15th championship title.
The 18-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first-teamer led the Lakers to five NBA championships and scored 33,643 points in his 20-year NBA career. Bryant 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 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.
Obama is an avid basketball fan and comically mimicked Bryant's "Mamba out" sign-off when he delivered a speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2016.
President Donald Trump tweeted about Bryant's death on Sunday and wrote: "Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!"
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating the crash. LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters that nine people were on board the aircraft—the pilot plus eight people.
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
- 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"