The world was left stunned by the passing of basketball great Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on January 26th last year.

Kobe was killed aged 41 alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others after their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Southern California.

There was an outpouring of grief for the five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist - with many once again honouring Black Mamba one year on from his untimely death. 


His impact on the game could not be underestimated and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to appear in the NBA, spending his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant helped the Lakers win three NBA championships in a row between 2000 and 2002. It is a feat that has not been matched since.

In an event that was honoured with a rerun on the anniversary, Bryant once scored 81 points in one game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 – the second most in any NBA game by an individual player behind Wilt Chamberlain – and dropped 60 in his final game before retirement in 2016.

He was posthumously inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. A statement on the hall of fame’s Twitter account read: “He was one of the greatest competitors who stepped on the court and made sure his impact was felt on both sides of the ball. He is ranked 4th on the NBA’s career points list (33,643). We congratulate posthumously 5x NBA Champion Kobe Bryant.”

Bryant – who was born in Philadelphia in 1978 – was drafted at number 13 by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 but was immediately traded to the Lakers.

The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s shirt numbers – eight and 24 – in a ceremony in December 2017, when then franchise president Magic Johnson said: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who has ever worn the purple and gold.”

READ MORE: BBC apologise after mistakenly using footage of LeBron James in Kobe Bryant tribute

In winning the NBA Championship this year, The Lakers dedicated the victory in remembrance of Kobe Bryant, who led the team to their last title in 2010.

However, off the court, Kobe was also a champion,  He launched a multimedia original content company and in 2018 won an Academy award for best short animated film entitled ‘Dear Basketball’.


The Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation has been set up in the names of both Kobe and Gigi which provides sports opportunities to the children of under-privileged communities and in particular girls and women.

READ MORE: In pictures: Tributes paid to Kobe Bryant

At an event to honour the basketball superstar at the Staples Centre, 20,000 mourners attending for the Celebration of Life for Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter 

Bryant’s wife Vanessa spoke of her memories of her husband which she said were far removed from his reputation as a driven basketball hero and Oscar winner.

“He was my everything – Kobe and I have been together since I was 17-and-a-half-years old. I was his first girlfriend, his first love, his wife, his best friend, his confidant, and his protector.”


A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant)

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Vanessa Bryant went on to pay tribute to Gianna, an enthusiastic basketball player who often accompanied her father to matches and was already being tipped as a future star of the women’s game.

“Gigi was very competitive, like her daddy, but Gianna had sweet grace about her.

“Her smile was like sunshine. Her smile took up her entire face, like mine. Kobe always said she was me. She had my fire, my personality and sarcasm, she was tender and loving on the inside.


“She had the best laugh. It was infectious. It was pure and genuine.

Paying tribute to her former husband In a post on Instagram, Vanessa said: “Let me be real- Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions.

“One day you’re in the moment laughing and the next day you don’t feel like being alive.

“I want to say this for people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live.

“I know it’s hard. I look at my daughters and I try to push through that feeling for them.”

She added: “Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn’t. Find your reason.”