Shortly before the Denver Nuggets were set to take on the Houston Rockets last Sunday, news broke of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others due to a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The news shook the entire world, as Bryant is one of the most iconic athletes we’ve ever seen, and his career has captivated basketball fans across the world for years and inspired many of the current NBA players to take up the game.
Because the afternoon matchup against the Nuggets and Rockets was the first game of the day, the two teams had little time to process the news before having to take the court. It was an emotional scene, as there was a moment of silence held for Bryant before tip-off. Later that day, several of the players took to social media to share their thoughts on Bryant and what he meant to their careers.
Jamal Murray made an Instagram post, expressing his disbelief at the news. He also recalls spending time with Bryant this past summer at his invite-only camp at Mamba’s Sports Academy.
Malik Beasley thanked Bryant in the below Instagram post in which he shared his feelings of sadness due to the fact that he had recently become close friends with the Lakers legend.
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The passion, the drive, the determination you had for the game will never go unnoticed. It’s crazy to me because I recently just became close friends with you. Next week was supposed to be our next film session and it hurts that you won’t be there. Kobe “Bean” Bryant thank you for everything you have done for this world. Your legacy will never be forgotten . #24 #8 #mambamentality
Will Barton sent a short yet impactful tweet paying tribute to one of his basketball idols.
RIP KOBE.....the— Will Barton (@WillTheThrillB5) January 27, 2020
P.J. Dozier wrote a heartfelt note on his reaction to Bryant’s passing, sharing memories of how Bryant impacted his passion for the game of basketball when he was a kid. He also sends his love to Bryant’s family.
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I have to start this off by saying that my heart and prayers go out to the Bryant family! If you know me, you know how much Kobe means to me, on and off the court! Growing up I spent countless hours outside playing ball, imagining I was Kobe Bryant taking the last shot of the game counting down from 3....2...1.... funny thing is if I ever missed the shot I would tell myself I wasn’t Kobe just now I was some other NBA player and I’d have to do it over again until I made it so I could be Kobe! The number of lives this man impacted is absolutely remarkable. His competitive spirit and the Mamba Mentality will always live on but let us not forget how great of a person he was as well! His daughter Gianna left this world at only age 13 and was just as exciting to watch as her dad. She loved the game and you could tell she was a mirror image of her father when it came to the game of basketball! Although her plans of continuing her dads legacy was cut short, she too left her mark on countless people at such a young age. Once again my heart goes out to the Bryant family! So right now I would like to tell my idol, the GOAT, and the one and only Kobe Bean Bryant..... THANK YOU #BryantLegacyLivesForever
Juancho Hernangomez took to Twitter to share a photo of him and Bryant.
Jarred Vanderbilt pays his respects to Bryant and expresses gratitude for having had the opportunity to meet him.
Rest In Peace to one of the greatest to ever play this game. You inspired us all. Grateful I got a chance to meet you. Prayers go out to his loved ones. This one hurts #MambaForever— Jarred Vanderbilt (@JVando) January 26, 2020
It’s extremely evident that there is perhaps no athlete from this generation that has impacted more people than Kobe Bryant. While this week has been filled with sadness and grief, it has been truly touching to see so many heartfelt tributes from players across the league, including this young Nuggets team.
R.I.P. Kobe Bryant.