On Sunday, January 26, the sporting universe and the world at large received the shocking news that NBA legend Kobe Bryant, along with eight others, perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Among those nine was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the eldest of Kobe Bryant’s four girls with wife Vanessa Laine Bryant.
The news of the tragedy broke around midnight in India, when most residents were tucked into bed. However, after waking up to the news, they immediately took to social media to express their heartfelt condolences.
Sania Mirza was one of them. India's most successful women's tennis player, who recently made a successful comeback to the sport, shared the sentiments of many of her compatriots while summing up her thoughts.
A basketball player himself, and someone who idolised Kobe Bryant, Satnam Singh Bhamara was hit especially hard with the loss, as he expressed on Instagram.
India women's hockey player Poonam Rani Malik short but succinctly expressed what made Kobe Bryant special.
Kobe Bryant's influence and greatness were not lost on India's cricketing fraternity either, as legendary batsman Yuvraj Singh, coach Ravi Shastri and commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted tributes.
The legend that was Kobe Bryant
The Philadelphia native was destined to be one of the biggest stars in basketball after being drafted straight out of high school in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick. The then 17-year-old was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was with the Los Angeles Lakers that Kobe Bryant stayed for the better part of two decades, as he went on to have one of the greatest careers in NBA history and formed a fruitful partnership with Shaquille O'Neal that led them to several NBA titles.
Kobe Bryant was nicknamed 'Black Mamba' and this year, he became eligible to enter the Hall of Fame.