Tributes pour in from around the globe

New York's Empire State Building was lit up in purple and gold to honor Kobe Bryant on Monday night (January 27) after the retired Los Angeles Lakers legend was killed in a helicopter crash with eight others - including his 13-year-old daughter.
A fan photographs a mural memorialising former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in California, near the Staples Center, on Jan 27, 2020.
A fan photographs a mural memorialising former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in California, near the Staples Center, on Jan 27, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES • Pop stars, politicians, athletes and fans paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday in a sign of how the retired Los Angeles Lakers superstar had transcended sport.

He had touched the lives of even those who had little interest in basketball.

At the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, several hundred shocked fans gathered to pay tribute as the venue which witnessed many of Bryant's career highlights hosted the music industry's Grammy Awards.

Fans erected a shrine with Bryant's jersey as well as flowers, caps and signs.

Mr Gennesys Cabral, a Lakers fan, said Bryant's death was even more painful than losing a family member.

"I've lost family members, and I know it sounds messed up but it didn't hurt this bad," he said.

There were so many people at the venue that most could not even catch a glimpse of the memorial.

The Grammys got under way with Lizzo announcing, "Tonight is for Kobe", before going into a medley of her songs Cuz I Love You and Truth Hurts.

Fellow American singer Alicia Keys, the host for the night, added: "Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built."

Banners of the five National Basketball Association championships that Bryant helped the Lakers win hung from the building's rafters, along with his jerseys.

PAINFUL LOSS

I've lost family members, and I know it sounds messed up but it didn't hurt this bad.

LAKERS FAN GENNESYS CABRAL, who joined hundreds at a shrine erected in Kobe Bryant's memory in Los Angeles.

Beyond his sporting achievements, US President Donald Trump acknowledged Bryant as a family man.

He tweeted: "Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future."

Brazilian football star Neymar remembered Bryant after scoring for his French club side Paris Saint-Germain, by making the No. 24 - Bryant's old shirt number - with his fingers.

In Melbourne, Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic led the tennis world in mourning his "mentor" yesterday.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion signed off his tweet of condolence with the words: "RIP my friend".

"My heart truly mourns over the news today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me," the Serbian, who Bryant labelled as his favourite tennis player, wrote.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2020, with the headline 'Tributes pour in from around the globe'. Print Edition | Subscribe