Kobe Bryant, Gigi Bryant remembered on second anniversary of their deaths
The NBA star, his daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles in 2020.
Wednesday marks the two-year anniversary of the death of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Fans, friends and former teammates have taken to social media to pay tribute to the NBA legend.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when their helicopter crashed amid foggy weather while on the way to a girls basketball tournament. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the accident.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, learned about their deaths on social media — hours before she received official confirmation from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, theGrio reported.
Tributes are pouring in from around the sports world. Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony noted that Kobe’s “energy is always here, especially mentally, we always think about him. I’m sure the city is always thinking about him, people in general are always thinking about him,” as reported by Lakers Nation.
Anthony battled against Kobe on the court for 13 seasons. The two also played alongside each other at the 2008 Olympics, winning a gold medal for Team USA.
“It is a very special day, the two-year anniversary of his passing, so it’s a celebrated day, it’ll be a sad day thinking about him, memories and what he meant to this organization, what he meant to this city, what he meant to the game of basketball as a whole,” Anthony continued.
“But we have to continue to celebrate him. That’s one thing that I’m sure he would’ve wanted, us to celebrate him, keep his legacy going. I’m proud of Vanessa and the kids, going to school, just to kind of see that emerge and see the family at least walking around with their heads high. It’s good to celebrate.”
Actress Tia Mowry shared a loving photo of Kobe and Gianna on her Instagram page along with the caption, “Kobe and Gigi, you will never be forgotten. And @vanessabryant you will forever be in our prayers. We love you.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Jerry West, who retired as a Lakers player in 1974 and then served as the team’s long-time general manager, reflected on Bryant’s untimely passing.
“He was just one of those unique players that come along. He had a big personality. He was very bright. He was going to be a bigger success off the court than on the court. He was taken away too young,” West said
“It’s really interesting because he didn’t have a full life,” he told the Times. “I saw him become a great father. Used to see him, in particular after he retired—he and his daughter [Gianna], who were both killed in that tragic helicopter crash. I just saw this enormous love and respect for this little girl. She was kind of the apple of his eye.
On Twitter, former NBA player-turned ESPN analyst Vince Carter noted that his birthday falls on the same day that “the world lost a great human being.”
“I’m thankful to see another year of life but it’s really tough to celebrate when the world lost a great human being on this same day,” he tweeted. “Rest well Kobe the world is truly missing a great one. So on this day I celebrate you & I say thank you for the battles & the friendship.#8/24″
In November, a judge ruled that Vanessa will not be required to undergo a psychiatric test to prove she suffered emotional distress over leaked photos of her husband and daughter’s fatal helicopter crash.
The judge rejected Los Angeles County’s request that the mother of four must undergo a psychiatric exam as part of her lawsuit against the county over the photos, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
The county’s motion to have the lawsuit thrown out has also been denied, CNN reported. The trial is set for Feb. 22.
Sculptor Dan Medina placed a statue depicting Bryant and Gianna at the site where they perished in Calabasas, Calif. on Wednesday. The names of all nine victims are etched on the bottom of the statue.
The 160-pound bronze piece is temporary, but Medina hopes the city will allow him to erect a larger, permanent version of the statue.
Check out additional Kobe tributes below.