Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Sunday. The news sent the sports world into shock.
But games, both in the NBA and elsewhere, went on. They included the Pro Bowl, which kicked off at 3 p.m. ET, around 30 minutes after Bryant’s death was first reported.
Players on the sideline were stunned as they tried to follow the news.
Pro Bowl players absolutely gutted over Kobe Bryant news. Mark Ingram continues to check his phone while asking me questions on validity of the news here on the sidelines. Derrick Henry said just yesterday he was asked to name undisputed GOAT in a sport and he said Kobe.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) January 26, 2020
Some fans at the game in Orlando learned of Bryant’s death via a PA announcement. Camping World Stadium then held a moment of silence – which was interrupted by clapping and chanting – for Bryant and the other passengers who were killed.
Chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” broke out around the stadium.
A moment of silence held here at the Pro Bowl to honor Kobe Bryant, followed by chants of “Kobe” pic.twitter.com/AWy62mirtO
— Omar Ruiz (@OmarDRuiz) January 26, 2020
NFL players react to Kobe Bryant’s death
Meanwhile, stunned NFL players took to social media to react:
We miss you already Kobe ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 26, 2020
Can’t be true.
Just can’t be.
Truly truly horrific.
Rest In Peace Kobe.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 26, 2020
— Saquon Barkley (@saquon) January 26, 2020
Kobe you were my idol… period. Mentality through and through. Thank you. To your family, I wish y’all nothing but the very best. Prayers and thoughts with you don’t begin to describe what we want for y’all. Love and respect to #8 & #24 forever. #MambaMentality #Mamba
— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) January 26, 2020
Some of My fondest memories of sports growing up were watching Kobe take over games with my dad. Modeled my mentality after him. Thanks for that Kobe. https://t.co/yRbe7mjYCH
— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) January 26, 2020
Today I lost my hero…
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) January 26, 2020
— Brian Dawkins (@BrianDawkins) January 26, 2020
Pro Bowl players honor Bryant
During the Pro Bowl, NFC defensive players honored Bryant with a sack celebration. Za’Darius Smith held up two fingers on one hand and four on the other, paying homage to Bryant’s No. 24.
#Packers LB @TheRealZSmith leads #NFC defense in a celebration honoring #KobeBryant at the #ProBowl2020 after a strip sack. VERY SPECIAL MOMENT TO WATCH. #ripkobe #RIPMAMBA #Kobe @GBPdaily pic.twitter.com/9o1ANBOsp8
— Josh Moser (@TheMozKnowz) January 26, 2020
“It was a tribute to Kobe and his family,” Smith said afterward. “For everyone to participate as a team, I just hope that touched a lot of people in a special way.”
Davante Adams also saluted No. 24 after his second-half touchdown. He dunked the ball through the goal posts. Later, on the sideline, he said, “Kobe always meant something special to me.”
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 26, 2020
Drew Brees was asked about Bryant in a sideline interview. “He inspired so many people, in so many different ways,” Brees said of the Lakers legend. “One of the great competitors, of any generation, not just with sports, but just the way he approached a lot of things, and what he was doing after basketball.
“It’s a tragic loss.”
Drew Brees was asked about Kobe Bryant at the Pro Bowl just now.
“One of the great competitors of any generation.” pic.twitter.com/IHllHc3q4Y
— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) January 26, 2020
Lamar Jackson was also asked about Bryant, whom he said signed a jersey for him when he got drafted. “That’s a legend, man,” Jackson said.
“That’s a legend. He did so much for the game of basketball. A lot of people looked to Kobe Bryant, including myself.”
Lamar Jackson on Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/7guQmmGgAE
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 26, 2020
Bryant was 41.
SOURCE: Yahoo! News, Henry Bushnell