Kobe Bryant

The world is mourning the demise of  NBA legend, Kobe Bryant who died at the age of 41 in a helicopter that crashed in Southern California on Sunday morning.

The 18-time NBA All-Star spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships before he retired in 2016. He also won two Olympics medals.

Tributes have continued to pour in following his demise as everyone is shocked.

United States President, Donald Trump in a tweet described Bryant’s death as terrible new.

“Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news,” Trump tweeted.

Shaquille O’Neal, who played alongside Bryant at the Lakers between 1996 and 2004, has paid his respects.

“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my niece Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW,” he tweeted.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has paid his respects to Bryant on Twitter, saying “Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete.”

Fans of the basketball legend have also started to gather at a memorial next to a mural of Bryant on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California.

People have gathered around a makeshift memorial for Kobe Bryant on the plaza in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Joe Morgan, of Sporting News, said of Kobe Bryant: “He is Los Angeles, I really have no problem in saying that. He means everything to everyone in this city. If you talk to anyone who grew up in LA or grew up as a Lakers fan, their number one favourite player or person they tried to be like was Kobe Bryant. Part of that is due to the fact that he spent his entire career here. He never left, he dedicated his life to Los Angeles. It’s just a really hard day.

“As the days go by and we see all these tributes and such, at this point we have just lost probably one of the greatest top five basketball players of all time and somebody who was incredibly important to the city of Los Angeles.

“There have been quite a few tears shed. I have no problem in saying I have done the same when I heard the news, it was just shock.”

Spanish professional basketball player and former team mate of Bryant, Pau Gasol is another to have paid tribute on social media.

“Beyond devastated… my big brother… I can’t, I just can’t believe it,” he tweeted.

Denis Rodman, who is a fellow five-time NBA champion alongside Bryant, has also paid tribute on social media.

“Devastated to hear the news on my friend @kobebryant passing. Prayers go out to his wife Vanessa and his children and the @Lakers family,” he tweeted.

Brian Mahoney, NBA writer for the Associated Press, told the BBC: “[The reaction] was a lot of shock and sadness when the headline report came out. He’s impacted so many people the way he played and he’s stayed very busy in retirement with doing things beyond basketball, so he’s still around. He’s not like a guy who retired and you don’t see him.

“Beyond just the basketball people there is sadness from anyone who was aware of him.

“He’s travelled using a helicopter for a long time, to training and games as he lived outside Los Angeles. Anyone who knows LA knows how bad traffic is there, it’s not a place you want to have to drive every day, so he’s been travelling by helicopter for quite a long time, I’m not sure for exactly how long but many years.”

Chrissy Teigen, the American actress and model, has also paid tribute to Bryant.

“Downtown right now and nothing feels more unimportant than what we are doing today. This is absolutely terrible. Everyone is numb,”she tweeted.