Current, Former Vikings Players React to Kobe Bryant's Tragic Passing

Will Ragatz

The entire sports world experienced an unexpected tidal wave of shock and grief on Sunday morning when news broke that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.

Bryant was known not just for his play on the court, where he won five NBA championships, but for being an outstanding father to his four girls. His "mamba mentality" work ethic and passion drove him to great success in basketball, but also translated into every other aspect of his life. Since retiring in 2016, he poured his heart into parenting and storytelling, even winning an Oscar for the short film "Dear Basketball."

Kobe was an icon. A larger-than-life figure. And a hero to so many people. That's what made his death almost unfathomable at first. I urge you to read some of SI's coverage of Bryant's life and legacy:

Among the millions of people who expressed their grief on social media on Sunday were numerous current and former Vikings.

Danielle Hunter said it didn't feel real at first, adding that the news really affected California native Eric Kendricks.

Despite the world being in shock, sports didn't stop. The NBA didn't cancel games, with many theorizing that the ultra-competitive Bryant would've wanted them to play. Players took the courts with tears in their eyes, and every team took either and 8 or 24-second violation to begin the game, representing Bryant's two jersey numbers.

The NFL had a game to play as well, with the Pro Bowl going on as scheduled. The news hung over the game like a dark cloud, but players did their best to pay tribute to Bryant. Everson Griffen was part of a group of players who celebrated a sack by mimicking Bryant's signature fadeaway jumper.

Rest in peace, Kobe and Gianna. And may the other seven people who lost their lives rest in peace as well. Our thoughts are with all of the families affected by this horrible tragedy.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

Still can't believe it. RIP to him and his daughter.