On Sunday, 41-year-old Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash that reportedly killed a total of nine people. The identity of all aboard are still undisclosed at this time, pending further investigation and conversation with next of kin, according to an LA County Sheriff at a press briefing earlier today.
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant, and three other daughters – Natalia Diamante, Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe, who is only 7 months old.
Kobe will go down in history as one of the best basketball players of all time. He won five championships throughout his notable 20-year career (all with the Lakers), was a 17-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Finals MVP, won two Olympic gold medals, won an Oscar in 2018 for his documentary “Dear Basketball,” and more. In addition, he was fluent in three languages – including Spanish, which he famously learned largely from telenovelas.
Of course, his legacy is not void of blemishes. In 2003, Bryant was accused of rape in a case that was settled out of court, according to Daily News.
Many will take time to reflect and process his complicated legacy in upcoming days, but the most-common reaction today was shock. People of all backgrounds were stricken by shock and grief today, and many took to social media to express their raw thoughts.
“[This] is why I don’t wait for tomorrow,” J Balvin wrote. “So many surprises in life that the present escapes us.” Dozens of others weighed in as well. Below are a few reactions from Latine folks who either knew him personally or admired him from afar:
“Beloved father, give strength to [Vanessa Bryant, who] not only lost a husband but also her daughter!” she wrote. “My soul is broken in pieces. This is a nightmare! Rest in Paradise Kobe & Gigi…”
“I never would have imagined this would hurt so much!” he said. “I still remember the first time I saw a game of basketball at 7 years old with my dad, and it was a game with this genius, and from that day forward he became my favorite player x100pre!! I’ve never mentioned it because it doesn’t necessarily have to do with music, but this man has been an inspiration in many aspects for me to be who I am today. RIP GOAT!!! Rest in PEACE!!!! Thank you for inspiring me so much!! Thanks for so many emotions!!! How sad I feel!!! A legend is gone!! Along with a beautiful child and basketball promise, Gianna… It breaks my soul too know that I was going to meet, and share time, with you soon…”
Neymar, who symbolically raised a high 2-4 on the field today, also took to Instagram to express his shock: “A sad day for us in sports, for fans [but] especially for family and friends of Kobe’s. A legend has been made with your hands, thank you for exalting the sport, Kobe… may God comfort the hearts of your family and friends.”
Rodriguez – producer, writer and director of the likes of “Black Mamba,” Spy Kids, Sin City, and El Mariachi – weighed in as well.
“Wow, my hero died,” he said. “This is unbelievable. I’m here crying as if I knew him, heartbroken. Rest in peace, legend, you left a mark on the world. May God continue blessing his family and fill them with strength. Wow what sadness. [Kobe Bryant] your name will live forever.”
“So sad. Feels so unreal!” he said.
“Why do you I wanna cry like this was my buddy? #RIPKOBE,” he wrote on Instagram.
Spanish basketball player Pau Gasol Sáez expressed disbelief.
“I still can’t believe it,” Nicky Jam wrote. “Rest in peace.”