Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has died at the age of 41 this morning after his helicopter crashed in Calibasas, California.
Bryant was a model and a “hero” to many in the younger generation. Several former Oklahoma State athletes have expressed their feelings on Twitter, many of whom grew up watching and idolizing Bryant.
I couldn’t guard him. No one could. He’s an All-Star in Heaven too. Praying for the whole family. I’m in shock. pic.twitter.com/xdGAgi5seM— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) January 26, 2020
Marcus Smart is one of a few former Cowboys that had the opportunity to play against Bryant in the NBA. Smart is known as one of the best defensive guards in the NBA, and claims Kobe was an un-guardable as they come.
We all mourn the death of @kobebryant. My heart goes out to his family. May he rest in peace.— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) January 26, 2020
Tony Allen was another one of the NBA’s best defensive guards. Bryant said in February 2016, a few months before his retirement, that Allen was the toughest defender he ever faced. Bryant gifted Allen a pair of his shoes with that message written of them during the last game the two played against each other.
Salute ✊ @kobebryant #Respect pic.twitter.com/vq60gu8XHb— Tony Allen (@aa000G9) February 27, 2016
Mason Rudolph, Emmanuel Ogbah and Jeffrey Carroll were among other Oklahoma State athletes to express their condolences.
Crushed. RIP Mamba.— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) January 26, 2020
RIP MY BROTHA!!! Hearing this news broke my heart today. WE BATTLED AND HAD SO MUCH MUTUAL RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER. I WILL NEVER FORGET THE PRE GAME DAP HUGS AND YOU SAYING TO ME “ I LOVE HOW HARD YOU PLAY DMASE,… https://t.co/LVxFOBZtm5— D.Mason (@dmasonart) January 26, 2020
RIP KOBE BEAN— Jawun Evans (@j3vans1_) January 26, 2020
I can’t believe what I’m seeing about Kobe Bryant...— ᴊᴇғғʀᴇʏ ᴄᴀʀʀᴏʟʟ ᴊʀ. (@J30Carroll) January 26, 2020
I’m so sick to my stomach! This can’t be real!— Emmanuel Ogbah (@EmanOgbah) January 26, 2020
All I can say is please grow in your relationship with God. No matter what you’ve done on this earth when He say it’s time it’s time. Please make sure you are prepared. Prayers sent for the loved ones of everyone affected in the crash. Kobe forever a legend. Forever. #8 #24— Tyler Patmon (@Lion_hearted_26) January 26, 2020
Our heartfelt condolences go out to Kobe Bryant’s family, loved ones, colleagues and fans. We also extend condolences to the other victims and their families. @kobebryant #RT10— Remember The Ten Run (@RT10Run) January 26, 2020
Rip Kobe pic.twitter.com/WcIrct5oFd— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) January 26, 2020
RIP @kobebryant You are a legend and role model for so many! Thoughts and prayers out to his family— Matthew Wolff (@matthew_wolff5) January 26, 2020
Bryant was named to the All-NBA First Team 11 times, All-Defense nine times, won league MVP in 2007-08 and was a five-time NBA Champion. His 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers is bested only by Dirk Nowitzki’s 21 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks in terms of most seasons spent with one franchise.
The impact of Kobe Bryant on the younger generation was immense. That is reflected in the number of Oklahoma State athletes seen above who are below the age of 30. Bryant was part of an elite few players that inspired my love of basketball when I was growing up.
As a Celtics fan, the Celtics 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals appearances wouldn’t have been as fun if they hadn’t come against Kobe and the Lakers. Many people don’t like the Lakers because of their historical significance and because “it’s LA,” but the underlying respect for one of the NBA’s greatest players was always undeniable.
Some NBA players — such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Isaiah Thomas and Demar DeRozen — only wear Bryant’s shoe line because of his significance to them and how he inspired their games. We’ve all heard people wad up a piece of paper and yell “Kobe” before shooting it into a trash can. Bryant’s basketball legacy is and will remain larger than life.
So too, will his legacy off the court. Bryant was a big proponent of the WNBA, and his Mamba Academy training facility became a haven for athletes of all sports to train at during the offseason.
Five people died in the crash, and it is known that one of the other victims is his daughter Gianna. Bryant was traveling with his daughter, and the parent and daughter of another player on Gianna’s AAU basketball team that Bryant was the coach of, to a tournament they were to play in.
Rest in peace to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, as well as the other victims of the crash.