On Sunday, former President Barack Obama mourned the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna by sharing a heartfelt tribute following reports the two were among those killed in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California on Sunday morning.
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” Obama wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers visited Obama in the White House in 2009 and 2010 to celebrate the team’s championship titles. The team also gifted the president his own jersey.
The 18-time All-Star and 11-time All-NBA first-teamer led the Lakers to five NBA championships and scored 33,643 points in his 20-year NBA career. Bryant retired after the 2015-16 season, having spent his entire career with the Lakers. The franchise retired his No. 8 and No. 24 jersey numbers in December 2017.
He was 17 when he was selected with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. He went on to become the Lakers’ franchise leader in points, games played, three-pointers, steals and free throws.
Obama is an avid basketball fan and comically mimicked Bryant’s “Mamba out” sign-off when he delivered a speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2016.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. 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.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020