Former President Barack Obama and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot paid tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant after the former NBA star was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in California.
The former president, an avid basketball fan who welcomed Bryant and his Lakers teammates to the White House on multiple occasions, posted a message on social media mourning the death of Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who was also on the helicopter when it crashed:
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” Obama said. “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send our love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Lightfoot said she was “saddened” by Bryant’s death, calling him one of the NBA’s greatest legends:
“Saddened by the death of Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s greatest legends who inspired fans with his drive and passion,” she said. “Our thoughts go out to his family during this painful time, as well as the families of all those who were lost in this terrible tragedy.”
Bryant was one of five people believed to be on board a helicopter that crashed just northwest of Los Angeles Sunday morning. Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people were also on the chopper when it crashed.
Numerous NBA teams have paid tribute to Bryant on Sunday, with the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs each allowing the 24-second shot clock to expire to begin the game in tribute to Bryant’s life.