The internet's heart was broken when it was revealed that legendary NBA player, Kobe Bryant, had died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning. He was just forty-one-years-old. Nine people are now confirmed dead.
The star was known for being one of the greatest players of all time, with a career with the Lakers spanning 2 decades. Bryant's daughter, Gianna was also on board the helicopter with her father and has died in the crash.
The son of Kobe's longtime friend and former teammate, Shaquille O'Neal, has shared his heartbreaking final text exchange hours before Kobe died.
Kobe Bryant has tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.
via: Getty ImagesThe NBA star's private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, TMZ sports confirms.
Bryant was a true basketball star.
via: TwitterHis father, Joe Bryant, was also a professional NBA player, and Kobe began playing basketball professionally straight out of high school.
He was a true legend in the sport.
via: TwitterBy his second season, Kobe had been named an All-Star.
When he was just thirty-four years old, Kobe became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points.
via: TwitterAnd on February 1st of 2010, it was announced Kobe was the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history.
His achievements didn't end there.
via: TwitterKobe also won 2 gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
He was a massive success off the court, too.
via: TwitterIn 2018, Kobe won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball.
Kobe retired after the 2015-16 season.
via: TwitterBut he stayed busy, focusing on many other career pursuits - alongside raising his family.
In 1999, Kobe met Vanessa Laine.
via: TwitterThe pair were both just 17-years-old but quickly fell in love - becoming engaged after only six months of dating.
Vanessa and Kobe married in 2001.
via: TwitterTheir first daughter was then born in 2003.
Their relationship wasn't always smooth sailing.
via: TwitterThey filed for divorce in 2011, but called off the breakup in 2013.
They shared 4 daughters.
via: TwitterTheir eldest was Natalia, who's 17, followed by Gianna, followed by Bianka, aged 3, and Capri, aged just 7 months.
Kobe was deeply in love with his wife.
via: TwitterAnd the pair were stronger than ever.
And he loved being a dad.
via: TwitterAs this photo of the Bryants in full family Halloween costume proves.
Kobe was known for opting to use a helicopter for travel...
via: Getty ImagesBut tragically, yesterday morning, his private helicopter went down and a "fire broke out," TMZ reports.
During a press conference, it was confirmed there were no survivors.
This is utterly devastating news...
Bryant's daughter, Gianna, was also on board the helicopter at the time of the crash.
via: Getty ImagesTMZ Sports reports that Gianna, aged 13, has tragically died in the crash. It is thought that the father and daughter were on their way to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice, nearby Thousand Oaks.
Gianna was Kobe's second-eldest daughter.
via: TwitterShe was born on May 1st of 2006, and was set to follow in Kobe's footsteps.
She often accompanied Kobe to basketball games.
via: TwitterIn fact, from childhood, Gianna would participate in the team warm-ups.
Kobe supported his daughter's passion for the sport.
via: TwitterHe would regularly take her along to women's basketball games - and Gianna played for the Mamba Academy ballers, where her father was the coach.
Gianna was reportedly a true talent.
via: TwitterAnd many thought she was set for an illustrious basketball career.
Kobe and Gianna were also very close.
via: TwitterThe 2 often pictured giggling and smiling together, and it's clear she was the apple of her father's eye.
Heartbreaking footage has emerged showing the aftermath of the tragedy.
.@LACOFD helicopter over the scene . As air ops quickly told me it is a fire not sheriffs chopper hovering and now… https://t.co/I5VE1IaTao— Richard Winton (@Richard Winton)1580066118.0
Alongside Kobe and Gianna, seven others have been confirmed to have died.
via: TwitterAll 9 of the passengers on board were confirmed to have died in the tragic crash.
And tributes have poured out for the victims.
via: TwitterIt's clear Kobe was an absolutely beloved presence in the celebrity world - and will be horribly missed.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To… https://t.co/YlRRr9ng7Q— Barack Obama (@Barack Obama)1580075776.0
RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me & my family. My deepest condolences to his family— Whoopi Goldberg (@Whoopi Goldberg)1580070506.0
Kobe is a G. Will always be remembered. @kobebryant Sad day.— Idris Elba (@Idris Elba)1580074156.0
rest in peace Kobe 🕊 https://t.co/YtlMAVJHIJ— Simone Biles (@Simone Biles)1580070232.0
Deeply shocked at the news of Kobe Bryant and four others lost today. Sending all my thoughts to their families an… https://t.co/KDDt3DHcWG— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1580071600.0
Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant .💔An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending… https://t.co/4wXPQhqf8t— Reese Witherspoon (@Reese Witherspoon)1580070202.0
My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going thr… https://t.co/uAW383RuHf— Taylor Swift (@Taylor Swift)1580074158.0
My heart truly mourns over the news today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me. You and your daughter will liv… https://t.co/jDfDbAy2R1— Novak Djokovic (@Novak Djokovic)1580095114.0
My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience what the families involved are going through. This has affected… https://t.co/YEKR9Dgngd— Kim Kardashian West (@Kim Kardashian West)1580084210.0
Kobe, We love you brother We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspirati… https://t.co/4cafOz1Zm2— ye (@ye)1580077243.0
Kobe was truly larger than life, a legend. May he and all those who lost their lives today rest in peace. Love and… https://t.co/86PTiYgXuT— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1580079991.0
The New Orleans Pelicans and the Boston Celtics started the game by each taking 24-second shot-clock violations in… https://t.co/HD54LZ80La— NBA (@NBA)1580084248.0
But not everyone was happy with Justin's condolences...One user wrote: "there are a lot of me's in your tribute to him...remember 9 people perished. No one cares about the encouragement he gave YOU. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU."
Amongst all the tributes, one of the last text messages Kobe sent has surfaced...
via: Getty ImagesKobe sent a text to Shaquille O'Neal's son, Shareef, just hours before he died in the tragic crash.
Shaquille O'Neal was a former teammate and longtime friend of Kobe.
via: TwitterAnd it seems Kobe messaged Shaquille's son, a twenty-year-old college basketball star, just hours before his untimely death.
Kobe had messaged him at 8.19 am on the morning of the fatal crash.
Shareef then replied:
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother… https://t.co/aFAvD7oD7w— SHAQ (@SHAQ)1580075169.0
Shareef posted a number of other tributes to both Kobe and his daughter, Gianna.
Right above me every night I go to sleep ❤️ I’m going to play through you ❤️🙌🏾 https://t.co/BPYuGsxV2G— Shareef O’Neal (@Shareef O’Neal)1580109063.0
Shareef shared the heartwrenching final conversation on Twitter.
via: TwitterLiterally this morning you reached out to me .... I love you forever unc. I love you," he wrote alongside the tweet. This is utterly devastating. R.I.P. to all the victims of this tragic accident.