Celebrities Remember Kobe Bryant Two Years After Basketball Icon Was Killed in Helicopter Crash

Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion, was killed with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash two years ago on Wednesday

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Celebrities and the basketball world are remembering NBA legend Kobe Bryant on the second anniversary of his death.

Wednesday marks two years since the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that killed Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was on their way to a youth basketball game.

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

Singer Ciara posted a photo in a Kobe jersey, writing, "Forever & Always in our hearts Kobe & Gigi
#2 #24 ❤️ Love you @VanessaBryant @NataliaBryant," and tagging Kobe's widow, Vanessa Bryant, and their oldest daughter, Natalia Bryant.

Kobe's former teammate Lamar Odom posted footage of a Kobe and Gianna pendant he said his management group had made for him. Alongside the video, Odom wrote, "To understand that Kobe meant the world to me and have this made as a constant reminder for me to keep going has me at loss for words."

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He also wrote in a tribute that "not a day goes by without thinking of you my brother @kobebryant. To vanessabryant and the family, I love you all! I have been taking on everyday with the #mambamentality and it has helped me remain focused and accomplish different goals I have set for myself. Bean showed me what greatness takes ! So I am taking it!"

Wrote former basketball star Vince Carter, "I'm thankful to see another year of life but it's really tough to celebrate when the world lost a great human being on this same day. Rest well Kobe the world is truly missing a great one."

Others, like Gabrielle Union and Russell Wilson, posted tributes on their Instagram Story.

Gabrielle Union Kobe
Gabrielle Union's Instagram Story. Gabrielle Union/Instagram
Russell Wilson Instagram
Russell Wilson's Instagram Story. Russell Wilson/Instagram

Former Los Angeles Lakers' General Manager Jerry West also spoke about Kobe's death in an interview with the New York Times. "It's hard not to be reminded of the day he passed away," said West. "I don't think anyone will forget that for a long time. I've often wondered if he had lived to, say, Elgin Baylor's age, or even my age, would people look at him the same way? I'm not sure they would. Just the shock and sadness of seeing this very young man's life taken seemed impossible."

Ultimately, Kobe spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers after being drafted out of high school in 1996 (he was originally selected by the Charlotte Hornets). He retired from the NBA in 2016.

The Lakers then retired both of Kobe's jersey numbers, No. 8 and No. 24, a year later in December 2017.

In August, Vanessa marked what would have been Kobe's 43rd birthday with a sweet note on Instagram, which was shared with an image of them from 2004.

"Happy birthday, Papi. Te Amo por siempre. Amor Eterno," Vanessa wrote, calling Kobe her "eternal love."

RELATED VIDEO: Vanessa Bryant on Grief, Love and "Finding the Light in Darkness": "Kobe and Gigi Motivate me to Keep Going"

Following his death, Vanessa took up leadership of Granity Studios, her late husband's multi-media company, and relaunched the charitable non-profit Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, dedicated to the father-daughter duo, which helps empower young girls and provide equal opportunities to underserved athletes.

Last May, Vanessa accepted Kobe's posthumous Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honor as part of the 2020 class.

"There will never be anyone like Kobe. Kobe was one of a kind. He was special, he was humble off the court but bigger than life," she said in her 12-minute speech at the event.

"To all of our close friends and family that have been present for my girls and I, thank you," she added. "That list is long and it takes a village but know that your kindness and love does not go unappreciated. I know that Kobe is thankful that you're all coming through for his girls."

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