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NBA legend, soccer fan Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

The world was rocked by the sudden death of the star, who held a passionate love of soccer.

Kobe and Jen Cramer, SVP Partnership Marketing for MLS, fist bump during the unveiling event for the partnership between MLS and BodyArmor at Banc of California stadium. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning. Bryant was 41 years old and his daughter was 13.

Seven additional people, including the pilot, were on the helicopter’s flight manifest but will not be identified until the coroner’s report is released and family members are notified, according Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who held a news conference Sunday evening. Villanueva confirmed there were no survivors of the crash.

Although Bryant forged his legacy during his 20-year basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was a passionate fan of soccer. He grew up an A.C. Milan fan after being introduced to the sport while his father played basketball in Italy. Bryant traveled often to attend Major League Soccer games, as well as matches in Europe. He recently became a spokesperson for the partnership between energy drink company BodyArmor and MLS, which Bryant helped announce during MLS media day in Los Angeles earlier this month.

TMZ first reported Bryant’s death. The group was en route to Gianna’s travel basketball game when the helicopter crashed, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Over the course of his career, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, an 18-time NBA All-Star and earned the MVP title in 2008. Considered one of the greatest to ever play the sport, he was the first guard to play at least 20 seasons in the league. Lakers forward LeBron James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list the night before his death.

As players, coaches and fans in the NBA mourned Bryant’s loss, the news rocked the soccer world as well. Stars from the United States national team and MLS shared their sympathies following the news.

Brazilian star Neymar held up the number 24 in honor of Bryant after scoring a goal for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho spoke about Bryant in his post-game press conference, praising him as “a serial winner” and a “great example in the world of sport.” 

Clubs and players throughout Europe — where Bryant commonly traveled to watch matches — also reacted to the news with grief and sympathy for Bryant’s family.

 

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