Kobe Bryant fans gather outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to the the Lakers legend. Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 other passengers in a helicopter crash on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune)
Kobe Bryant fans gather outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to the the Lakers legend. Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 other passengers in a helicopter crash on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

PHOTOS: Deaths of NBA great Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna and 7 others leaves SoCal in state of shock

As reactions pour in of the deadly accident, Lakers fans converged at Staples Center to remember Bryant.

January 27, 2020

Multiple reports of a deadly helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others made headlines Sunday morning.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated during a press conference following the crash that the helicopter transporting Bryant and the other eight passengers crashed at 9:47am Sunday.

“This will be an extensive investigation, which could take a great deal of time,” Villanueva stated via Twitter.

As the news of the crash rippled throughout SoCal and the nation, thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center throughout the day in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Lakers and the stadium where Bryant clinched five NBA Championships.

At exactly 8:24pm fans chanted “Kobe” and “Mambacita,” in reference to Bryant’s daughter Gianna, an aspiring basketball player who also died in the crash.

Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune
Kobe Bryant fans gather outside the Staples Center to pay their respects to the the Lakers legend. Bryant died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 other passengers in a helicopter crash on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

Janice Hahn, LA County 4th District supervisor, released the following statement about the crash:

“Kobe Bryant was a Los Angeles icon. For two decades, we were inspired by his unparalleled skill and passion for the game. He wasn’t just talented— he was masterful. His sudden death has left fans in LA and across the country heartbroken and the tragedy is only compounded by the death of his young daughter. My prayers are with his wife Vanessa, his family, his teammates and his millions of fans. The greatest of all time, may he rest in peace.”

Scroll down to see images of fans paying respects to Kobe Bryant outside Staples Center.

At 41-years-old, Bryant had dedicated his time in retirement to train his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” in the sport of basketball. Authorities also stated that onboard the helicopter was Alyssa Altobelli, Gigi’s teammate.

Alyssa’s father, Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli, was also among those killed.

John’s death sent shockwaves through the collegiate sports community. Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees President Vivian Malauulu stated that the news of the crash began to spread while she was attending an annual legislative conference of community colleges in Sacramento.

“Details of the helicopter crash that killed basketball great Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, had been discussed at length, but it wasn’t until the identity of one particular passenger was revealed that unmitigated shockwaves assaulted conference attendees,” Malauulu stated. “The grief throughout the conference was instant and palpable. It instantly worsened when two additional passengers were identified as his wife, and his daughter. Coach Altobelli was a professional who dedicated his career to improving the lives of student-athletes in higher education. His achievements as a coach were remarkable and many community college baseball players owe their professional playing careers to his commitment to helping them get to the next level. As a community college educator, he was one of us and we share the grief that our sister college is feeling.”

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