They may have been seen as rivals on the court, but Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were longtime friends who shared a mutual love and respect. They're hailed as two of the greatest players to ever pick up a basketball and off the court, their families were woven together as one. Since news broke on Sunday (January 26) that Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna "GiGi" Maria and seven others, had lost his life in a tragic helicopter crash, hundreds of thousands of the Los Angeles Lakers legend's loved ones and admirers have vocalized their grief and disbelief.


Jamie Squire / Staff / Getty Images

NBA games continued on schedule and players could be seen sitting courtside weeping. Fans converged onto the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, the home of the Lakers, blocking traffic as the 62nd annual Grammy Awards were being held inside. People who had followed the career of the basketball star openly cried in the streets of cities worldwide. Sports figures, from all fields, shared their memories or condolences via social media and in emotional interviews. 

Kobe's last Instagram post was a photo of himself with LeBron, and in the caption, Bryant praised his friend for passing his third-place spot for the NBA's all-time scoring list. LeBron doesn't owe the public a response to the death of his friend, but the Lakers star used the opportunity to share in the global grief that family, friends, and fans are experiencing together. 

He wrote:

"I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾"

We continue to send our condolences to Kobe Bryant's loved ones.