Heartwarming Tributes Flow in For The Late Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Celebrities and fans around the world have paid tribute to basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on January 26, also claiming the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Maria Bryant and seven others.

From the former President of the United States Barack Obama tweeting a heartfelt message to makeshift shrines outside Los Angeles’ Staples Centre, and a subway name change in New York City, fans have mourned the death of the NBA champion.

“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” President Barack Obama wrote.

“To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”

Releasing a statement on Tuesday morning, the NBA officially postponed the upcoming Lakers vs. Clippers game at the Staples Centre, “out of respect for the Lakers organisation, which is reeling from the death”.

Outside the centre itself, several memorials continue to grow as people drop off flowers, candles, balloons and memorabilia in front Bryant’s home court, with digital billboards around LA featuring Bryant’s photograph.

Kobe Bryant
Getty Images

In New York City, subway riders paid tribute to the 41-year-old with a makeshift sign at the Bryant Park subway station.

The sign was plastered with the name “Kobe”, hiding “42nd Street”, turning it into“Kobe Bryant Park” while another read “Kobe and Gigi Bryant Park”.

Kobe Bryant
Getty Images

Bryant’s deeply devoted fan-base is now doing what it takes to uphold his memory, and have started a Change.org petition requesting that the NBA change its logo to feature the basketball star.

User Nick M created the petition, which has been backed by Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Adam Levine and Naomi Campbell, with the #changethelogo hashtag.

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New logo. @nba Let’s do what’s right

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Tributes to Gianna have also been flowing in, with the University of Connecticut Huskies, the team which Gianna wanted to play for, honoured her at a sporting by laying  out a bouquet of flowers atop one of their courtside chairs.

The women also put a Huskies jersey with the number 2 on display at the game, which was an homage to Gianna who frequently played basketball with that number for the Mamba Academy.

On home soil, Australian tennis star, Nick Kyrgios, says he “drew on the spirit of Kobe Bryant” when he played Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park.

Entering Rod Laver Arena in a Kobe number 8 LA Lakers jersey on Monday night, Kyrgios paid tribute to the basketball icon.

“It’s horrible news. If anything, it motivated me. If you look at the things he stood for, what he wanted to be remembered by, I felt like, if anything, it helped me tonight,” Kyrgios said.

“When I was down a break in the fourth, I was definitely thinking about it. I fought back.”

Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios

The wider Basketball community has also felt the loss, with Shaquille ONeal and his son, Shareef, mourning their “niece”, “uncle” and “brother”.

Basketballer and former teammate, Lamar Odom, shared a heartfelt tribute on his Instagram, saying that “the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son,” he said, referring to his six-month-old son Jayden who died from sudden infant death syndrome in 2006.

“These pictures are just the tip of the iceberg of our relationship,” Odom said in the lengthy caption, accompanying images of the two.

“He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court. On the court, he taught me how to carve out defenses and how to take my time. How to make winning my ultimate goal.”

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These picture are just the tip of the iceberg of our relationship. He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court. On the court he taught me how to carve out defenses and how to take my time. How to make winning my ultimate goal. Off the court he taught me to sign my own checks lol. Of course anyone who knows my story knows I’ve suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son. Even though our relationship wasn’t father/son, it was more like him being a teacher and me being his brother. I’m glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure. I couldn’t even catch my breath today when I heard this news. I just knew if he was in a helicopter crash he would have been the one to survive. Somehow he would have jumped out and landed on his feet. I’m sitting here thinking about when we would be in practice scrimmaging and you would start the jump ball off with elbowing Sasha in the chest. Like dude it’s 10:30 in the morning lol. You think watching him play was crazy, you gotta think in practice if you scored like 8-9 buckets throughout the practice you had a great practice. I’ve seen him knock off 13-14 in a row in practice!!!! I’m still waiting for the media to come out and say wrong report. No way God took my brother this early. I know I been through my own stuff in life with using drugs and not being good to myself. When I went through that Coma situation if God would have came to me and said we would take me and spare Kobe I would have rather that happened. In honor of my brother I’m up at 4am tomorrow to get to the gym! Gigi gone give you buckets!!!! I love you brother ???? @kobebryant

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During the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, just hours after the tragedy, superstar Lizzo paid tribute to Bryant during her opening number, dedicating the performance to his legacy.

Alicia Keys, who was hosting the ceremony, then took to the stage with Boyz II Men, singing an acapella version of It’s Hard to Say Goodbye To Yesterday.

“We never imagined in a million years that we’d have to start the show like this,” Keys said.

WATCH: Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men pay tribute to Kobe Bryant. Story continues…

Bryant was among nine people killed in the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.

According to TMZ who first broke the news, Bryant was travelling in a private helicopter which he regularly used.

He and Gianna “were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred.”

Eyewitnesses also told the outlet that they had heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it crashed amid foggy conditions.

The other victims of the crash have been identified as head baseball coach at Orange Coast College John Altobelli and wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. Basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and daughter Payton (teammate of Gianna Bryant) and helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan.

Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa and their three other daughters: Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri Kobe Bryant, seven months.

The cause of the crash is still yet to be determined and is under investigation.

WATCH: Ellen Degeneres Tribute to Kobe Bryant

More than ever, I’m grateful for every day.

More than ever, I’m grateful for every day.

Posted by Ellen DeGeneres on Monday, 27 January 2020