Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash had a profound effect on Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James as cameras caught him and the team arriving back in the city from their East Coast road trip Sunday.
The Lakers reportedly learned of Bryant’s death on their team flight back home.
Cameras showed James being consoled and crying as he walked from the team plane.
“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” James said Saturday. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling and it’s dope.”
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among those killed in the helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Investigators said there were nine people on the helicopter’s manifest and they believed all were victims in the crash.
Bryant, 41, was a superstar athlete who transcended sports. He won five NBA championships with the Lakers along with many other accolades.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on the death of Bryant and his daughter.
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," Silver said.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the Very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”