MMA, boxing communities mourn passing of Kobe Bryant

UFC BodyArmor Partnership Unveil Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The five-time NBA champion was killed in a helicopter crash in California.

The sports world is in shock following the tragic death of one of basketball’s most accomplished and iconic players.

Former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed after his private helicopter crashed in Calabasa, California early Sunday morning. L.A. County officials said in Sunday’s news conference that nine people (one pilot, eight passengers) were on board the helicopter. None of the nine survived.

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion who spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers. His laundry list of basketball accomplishments include those aforementioned NBA titles, along with two Finals MVPs, league MVP in 2008, making the All-Star Game 18 times, 11 All-NBA First Team honors, and nine All-NBA First Team defense appearances. Not even 24 hours before Kobe’s passing, current Lakers star LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third on the list of NBA’s all-time leading scorers, doing so in Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia.

Kobe’s legacy extends far beyond basketball, and his impact on sport and culture can be seen on a global scale. The outpouring of emotional statements, tributes, and condolences have been made by athletes, coaches, and other figures across all sports, including boxing and MMA. Below is a compilation of reactions on social media from the likes of UFC president Dana White, heavyweight boxing great Lennox Lewis, UFC Raleigh main event winner Derek Brunson, and more.

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Horrible!!!! RIP my man

A post shared by Dana White (@danawhite) on

Just over two years ago, the UFC announced a sponsorship agreement with sports drink company BodyArmor, with Bryant present as a member of the Board of Directors and the third largest shareholder. Bryant was also a speaker at the UFC Athlete Retreat, where he notably expressed his support for athlete unions following a question asked by former UFC women’s bantamweight Leslie Smith.

Kobe Bryant was just 41 years old. He is survived by his wife Vanessa, along with his other three daughters Natalia, Bianca, and newborn Capri, who is less than a year old.

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