MIAMI (CBS SF) — The tragic loss of NBA legend and cultural icon Kobe Bryant–along with his daughter Gianna and 7 others–in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning left people across the world frozen and with heavy hearts.
Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, were among 9 confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California around 10 a.m. en route to Mamba Academy, Bryant’s sports academy in Thousand Oaks.
The San Francisco 49ers, who just landed in Miami Sunday afternoon to prepare for Super Bowl LIV, also felt the impact of Bryant’s death. The team offered their condolences to “a legend gone too soon” in a statement on Sunday.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: The Death of Kobe Bryant
“With heavy hearts we send our condolences to the Bryant Family after the tragic loss of Kobe & Gianna. Prayers for all the families who lost a loved one #RIPMamba,” the team said via Twitter.
KPIX sports director Dennis O’Donnell said the arrival of the Niners and the Chiefs in Miami was “completely overshadowed” by the news of Bryant’s death.
O’Donnell was in the Super Bowl media center when the news arrived and he said you could sense the focus shifting from the Super Bowl at hand to the legacy of Bryant, who had an impact on many in the room.
Niners Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana offered his condolences, saying, “Our condolences go out to the Bryant Family, NBA Family and Laker Nation! RIP @KobeBryant,” on Twitter.
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, a well-spoken figure who always has many words, was at a loss Sunday.
“Just don’t have words… #Kobe,” Sherman said on Twitter.
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw said the news of Bryant’s passing “hurts so bad.”
“Woow (sic) this just can’t be real dawg!!” Kwon Alexander tweeted. “That’s why I wake up happy everyday and give thanks to the man above because I know tomorrow ain’t promise! Enjoy life to the fullest!”
49ers wide receiver Jordan Matthews shared on Twitter a video he took with Bryant to remember him. He said his son is born on Aug. 24, often referred to as “Mamba Day” due to Bryant’s two Lakers jersey numbers–8 and 24.
This is leadership. After a long speech Kobe took time to congratulate my wife on her pregnancy and wish her good luck on training post delivery. He was Cheyna’s favorite athlete growing up. My son was born on 8/24. Thanks Brother 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/xuLWsfQkWg
— Jordan Matthews (@jmattjmattjmatt) January 27, 2020
Former Niners QB Colin Kaepernick remembered Kobe not only as a basketball legend, but as a father and a man. “Watching him & Gigi share their relationship with us is something I won’t ever forget. My heart aches for his wife, children & family. I hope the waves of love being sent to his family can ease some of the pain they feel,” Kapernick said in a tweet.
Fans were packed outside Staples Center in Los Angeles as the Grammy Awards were happening to honor the Lakers legend with tears, flowers and stories about how he impacted their lives.
“Kobe Bryant transcended generations. He appealed to old , middle-aged and young people. It’s a testimony, I think, to his character, the person he was, the father he was, the player he was. Right now, in Miami tonight, it’s about Kobe Bryant and not the Super Bowl,” O’Donnell said.
Media night for the Super Bowl is Monday evening and that’s when 49ers and Chiefs players may address the somber subject.