The Lakers are mourning the devastating loss of one of their own.
On Sunday, the L.A.-based NBA team were headed back home from Philadelphia when they received news their former teammate Kobe Bryant had tragically passed away following a helicopter accident. Understandably, the players were in shock and seen visibly upset as they exited their flight. An emotional LeBron James immediately hugged a woman before walking off on his own, wiping away the flood tears.
The sudden death comes just one day after LeBron passed Kobe, a.k.a. Mamba, on the all-time scoring list, an achievement Kobe was more than happy to celebrate. "Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames," the 41-year-old tweeted just hours before the fatal crash. "Much respect my brother #33644." (This would, unfortunately, be his final post on the social media site.)
For his part, LeBron idolized the legend, looking up to him throughout his childhood and career. "Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration," he recently told ESPN. "I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do."
At around 9:47 a.m. local time, the retired superstar's helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif., killing all nine passengers on board. Among the victims was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant.
According to TMZ, the father-daughter duo were reportedly on their way to Mamba Academy for a basketball practice, which is near the Thousand Oaks and Calabasas area in Los Angeles. He is survived by wife Vanessa Bryant and his three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Shortly after news broke, friends, family and fans took to social media to pay tribute to one of the greats.
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," Barack Obama wrote. "To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."
Kobe's former teammate Shaquille O'Neal cannot believe this is his new reality.
"Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling," he wrote in a tribute. "I loved Kobe. He was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply—and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball."
Our thoughts are with Kobe's loved ones during this devastating time.