'A true sporting icon': Kobe Bryant's death leaves sports world in shock; Tom Brady, Larry Bird lead tributes

'We miss you already Kobe,' American football icon Tom Brady wrote

                            'A true sporting icon': Kobe Bryant's death leaves sports world in shock; Tom Brady, Larry Bird lead tributes
Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant lost his life in a helicopter crash on Sunday at the age of 41 and left the sports world in a deep shock. The former LA Lakers star was with his daughter Gianna and at least four other people when a fire caused the helicopter to spiral and crash. 

Ever since the news hit social media, football players, sports stars and other celebrities have been posting heartfelt messages for the NBA superstar. Leading the tributes, Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling posted a picture of Kobe and wrote, "Rest easy legend." American football icon Tom Brady wrote, "We miss you already Kobe."

"Everyone at Manchester City is shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Kobe Bryant. He was a true sporting icon and transcended the sport of basketball. Our thoughts are with Kobe Bryant's friends, family, and the entire Lakers organization during this tragic time," a tweet from Manchester City read and another one from Chelsea said, "A true sporting icon. Rest in peace, Kobe." FC Barcelona football club posted, “Shocked by the death of @kobebryant, an exemplary athlete both on and off the basketball court. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace.”

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the post-game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird wrote, “Kobe was not only an icon in the sports arena, but he was also a man of the world and touched so many lives and communities in the most positive ways. His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others – his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in everything he accomplished.”

“Jeannine & I are absolutely shocked to hear of the loss of one of my favorite people & one of the best basketball minds in the history of the game! Our hearts and prayers to Vanessa & his girls. @kobebryant you were my biggest fan, but I was yours," a tweet from NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell read.

Actress Reese Witherspoon posted, “Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well.” Rev. Jesse Jackson posted, “As I tweet through my tears, I am so hurt. I cannot stop crying. Kobe was instrumental to so many people. There is a hole in the basketball world and there will be for a long time. Rest in heavenly peace.” 

In this July 12, 1996 file photo Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. (AP Photo/Susan Sterner, file)

Chairman and CEO of Disney wrote, “Today we at @WaltDisneyCo mourn the tragic loss of @kobebryant...a giant in sports and a person so full of life. Terrible news and so hard to process....” and rapper Wyclef Jean posted, “A true gladiator in our lifetime. You will be forever in our memories, our children's memories, and generations to come.” 

Retired NFL player Keyshawn Johnson wrote, “I'm at a loss for words. @kobebryant was a long-time friend, an inspiration and we shared our first ever commercial @espn together as professionals. I love you forever. #RIPMAMBA” and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas said, “Kobe Bryant Rest in Peace. Unbelievable, unbelievably sad...”

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti also sent his condolences and wrote, “Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.” 

Bryant's death came one day after he was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list and his last tweet was to American basketball player LeBron James: "Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother."

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