'Gone Way Too Soon': NYC Athletes React To Death Of Kobe Bryant

Reports: NBA Great Killed In California Helicopter Crash

Ryan Chatelain
January 26, 2020 - 6:39 pm

The death of NBA great Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash Sunday hit the sports world hard, even in New York, where athletes quickly took to Twitter to express their shock. Many of them said Bryant was their favorite athlete. 

Bryant, 41, was among nine people killed late Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, a Los Angeles suburb, TMZ Sports first reported. Multiple other media outlets have since confirmed the death of the former Lakers superstar.

One of Bryant's four daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, was also killed, TMZ reported.

“Real tears,” Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted. “Unreal man. S--- makes no sense. How is the world going to take Kobe from us so soon? Can’t even speak man. This is awful. Prayers to everyone!’

“This is extremely tragic to society,” he wrote in a separate tweet. “One of the most influential individuals/athletes to ever live. His legacy in 41 years is insurmountable. I’m beyond sad. Cherish every single second of life man. Every second you’re breathing, be thankful!"

Kobe Bryant
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

“I don’t believe it actually....it’s unbelievable, no way,” Jets running back Le’Veon Bell tweeted just after the news broke. 

“Life’s way too short,” Jets safety Jamal Adams tweeted just before playing in the Pro Bowl. “My favorite athlete of all time is gone.”

“I’m sick I can’t believe this my idol Kobe gone too soon,” Mets reliever Dellin Betances wrote on Twitter. 

On behalf of the Nets organization, coach Kenny Atkinson addresssed reporters before their game against the Knicks.

“As an organization, we’re devastated, and the players are devastated. We have a player that was very close to Kobe. My thoughts and prayers are with him," said Atkinson, who was believed to be referring to Kyrie Irving, who is missing the game for personal reasons. "And so just a tough time for the NBA, for all of us.”

The exterior of Madison Square Garden was lit up in purple and gold Sunday night.

"The New York Knicks join with the entire NBA community to mourn today’s sudden and tragic accident that claimed several innocent lives, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his young daughter, Gianna," the Knicks said in a pair of tweets. "We are heartbroken at this incomprehensible loss of life, and send our thoughts and prayers to Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, the Bryant family and the Lakers during this difficult time."

Former Knick Amar’e Stoudemire learned of Bryant’s death while playing in Israel. He was visibly distraught during an on-court interview.

“I’m at a loss for words, man," he said. "I have no idea what to even think. It’s like a dagger to my heart right now.”

“Kobe was so real and open about who he was and what drove him every second of every day,” Giants tight end Evan Engram tweeted. “He inspired millions of people including myself. Gone way too soon. RIP Kobe

Wrote Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland: "This is deafening Still collecting my thoughts about the impact you’ve had on all of us but my own life personally Praying for you & your entire family & everyone you’ve made an impact on in your short time on this earth."

Bryant played 20 seasons in the NBA, all for the Lakers. He was an 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion. He ranks fourth in the NBA in all-time scoring, just passed on the list by the Lakers’ LeBron James on Saturday night. 

His last tweet congratulated James.