Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, died in a helicopter accident in California one year ago

By Jason Duaine Hahn
January 18, 2021 09:25 PM
Kobe Bryant
Credit: Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

Celebrities and athletes are remembering NBA legend Kobe Bryant on the first anniversary of his death.

Tuesday marks one-year since Kobe's death in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others: John AltobelliKeri AltobelliAlyssa AltobelliSarah Chester, Payton ChesterChristina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was on their way to a basketball game.

Across social media, many fans and friends of Kobe posted heartfelt tributes to commemorate his life, and the life of his daughter.

"Can't believe it's been one year since we experienced the tragic loss of my brother, my friend, Kobe Bryant," Alex Rodriguez wrote. "It still doesn't feel real. Kobe was so much more than just a basketball player and he was destined for even more greatness. His journey was truly just beginning and it still hurts so much thinking about how much good he had left to do."

Others shared similar anecdotes about the late athlete, including Michael B. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Viola Davis.

Kobe, along with Shaquille O'Neal, led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive championships in the early 2000s, followed later by back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Kobe spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers after he was drafted out of high school in 1996 (he was originally selected by the Charlotte Hornets).

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant
| Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty

Since the tragedy last January, Kobe and Gianna have been commemorated in many ways, especially by his former team and contemporaries.

In Los Angeles, Staples Center — the arena the Lakers call home — served as a prominent meeting place for fans to mourn in the days after the accident. Hundreds of fans gathered outside of the arena to leave flowers, notes, basketballs and jerseys in memory of the 18-time All-Star.

When the Lakers held their first game following the accident, they invited Usher and Ben Hong of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform before tip-off.  Then, at halftime, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth performed a moving rendition of "See You Again," which was initially featured in the soundtrack for Furious 7 as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker. A few days later, Kobe and the victims were honored at the Super Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida.

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In the final weeks of the 2020 season, the Lakers wore "Black Mamba" uniforms that were designed by Kobe and Nike after his retirement. Kobe's uniform design features a black snakeskin print and 3-D style lettering. There are also 16 stars on the jersey's side panels representing the number of the team's NBA titles before earning their 17th at the end of last season.