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World media reacts to Kobe Bryant's death

  • Published at 12:05 pm January 27th, 2020
Luis Villanueva lights a candle in front of a Kobe Bryant mural in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, 2020. - Nine people were killed in the helicopter crash which claimed the life of NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter, Los Angeles officials confirmed on Sunday. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight passengers and the pilot of the aircraft died in the accident. The helicopter crashed in foggy weather in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. Authorities said firefighters received a call shortly at 9:47 am about the crash, which caused a brush fire on a hillside. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP)
Luis Villanueva lights a candle in front of a Kobe Bryant mural in downtown Los Angeles on January 26, 2020 AFP

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna have died in a helicopter crash

Journalists from inside and outside the world of sport lined up to pay tribute to NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist Kobe Bryant after his death in a helicopter crash.

US Sports magazine Sports Illustrated ran with a single black and white photo of Bryant in profile and the headline: "Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020."

Below, it posted links to every cover that had featured the star.

"How does that happen? Kobe is stronger than any helicopter," wrote Bill Plaschke in the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper of the city that adored Bryant, who won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"He didn't even need a helicopter. For 20 years he flew into greatness while carrying a breathless city with him."

 Images for the late Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant are projected onto a screen while (L-R) YG, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, and Roddy Ricch perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2020 | AFP

At the other end of the country, the New York Times website carried a lengthy profile of Bryant, hailing his "extraordinary career" as well as mentioning 2003 rape accusations that were levelled against him.

Kobe Bryant "personified the modern sports alpha," wrote Jason Gray in a Wall Street Journal article headlined "What Kobe Bryant Meant". 

"On the court, he was the alpha, really—for better, and, sometimes, worse, in greatness and defeat, demanding to put the whole game on his shoulders when it mattered most, and even when it didn't matter much at all."

The grief was just as strongly felt in Europe, particularly Italy, where Bryant spent part of his childhood and where his father played professional basketball. 

Mourners gather in Microsoft Square near the Staples Center to pay respects to Kobe Bryant after a helicopter crash killed the retired basketball star, in Los Angeles, California, US on January 26, 2020 | Reuters

In Italy, the La Gazzetta dello Sport ran with the headline "La Tragedia" -- "The Tragedy" -- and paid tribute to Bryant's "fluent Italian", picked up during his stay in the country.

La Gazzetta also posted a video of a young Bryant playing basketball in Pistoia in Tuscany.

The Corriere sports daily recalled Bryant's love for Italy and its football -- he was an avid AC Milan fan -- quoting Roma legend Francesco Totti as saying he was "honoured to have known the American champion".

In France, where Bryant also briefly lived when he was a teenager, L'Equipe dedicated nine pages to the star's death, underneath a photo of Bryant posing against the Paris skyline. 

People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant after learning of his death, at LA Live plaza in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 26, 2020 | AFP

"Basketball alone does not define me," he told the French publication in 2017.

Marca, the most popular sports magazine in Spain talked of "pain and glory" after the death of Bryant.

"Most players are either consumed by the marathon of the NBA or worn down by the grind of 82 games, plus playoffs, year upon year," wrote Roy Ward in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald.

"Kobe was one of the rare ones who transcended the grind. He worked himself until he could stand up to every road trip, every injury, every boo; every missed shot and every loss."