Lakers Release Statement on Kobe Bryant's Sudden Death

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The Los Angeles Lakers took to Instagram on Wednesday to release a statement following the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna

"We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," the post reads. "We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers. Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever.

"The Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to support the families affected by this tragedy. To help, please visit MambaOnThree.org. For those who are inspired to continue Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org."

Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, also released her first public comments on the tragedy on Wednesday. 

The Lakers organization has been greatly impacted by the Kobe and Gianna's deaths, with Tuesday's game against the Clippers postponed to allow more time for players and the front office to grieve.

Lakers executives, including Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis, gathered at the team's facility on Sunday following the news, according to the LA Times. General manager Rob Pelinka, who was Bryant’s agent and a close family friend, reportedly also spent time on Sunday with Bryant’s widow, Vanessa.

An 18-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first-teamer, Bryant 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 when he was selected with the No. 13 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.

One of his most iconic games was an 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, which ranks as the second-most points scored in an NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100 on March 2, 1962. Bryant scored 60 points in his final game when the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz 101–96 on April 13, 2016.

Countless other Lakers honored Bryant on Sunday. Magic Johnson called Bryant "the great Laker of all-time." Shaquille O'Neal said that there were "no words to express the pain" he was feeling. Phil Jackson said that Bryant "transcended the norm." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he was "much more than an athlete."

Others from around the sports world also paid their respects to Bryant.

The 2020 Grammy Awards took place in Staples Center on Sunday night, and host Alicia Keys framed the event by acknowledging Bryant's death in her opening remarks.

Earlier in the day, fans started gathering outside Staples Center to honor the late Lakers legend following the news off his death.

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa and wife Keri were also aboard the helicopter and killed, along with Sarah and Payton Chester, assistant coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan. 

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