Lakers Star LeBron James Seen in Tears After Learning of Kobe Bryant's Death
Kobe Bryant's death comes one day after he honored LeBron James for surpassing him as the third-leading scorer in NBA history
The NBA star, 35, was seen crying at the Los Angeles International Airport after learning that Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning.
In the gut-wrenching footage shared by WKYC, James is seen crying into someone’s embrace. As he walks away, he begins to wipe away his tears with some tissues before another person approaches him. They also embrace, and James visibly weeps into the man’s shoulder.
A source told ESPN reporter Ohm Youngmisuk that the Lakers found out about Bryant’s death while on the team plane flying home from Philadelphia where they played against the 76ers on Saturday night.
“Everyone is in shock,” a team source said, according to the outlet.
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were traveling in a private helicopter when it went down on Sunday morning, Los Angeles emergency officials confirmed. A source previously confirmed Bryant’s death to PEOPLE.
Emergency personnel responded, but none of the nine people on board the aircraft survived, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference on Sunday.
Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a travel basketball game for Gianna. Last year, Bryant revealed that in his retirement he began coaching his daughter’s team.
Spokespersons for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and L.A. Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Bryant’s death comes just one day after he honored James in what will now be his final social media post.
Bryant was the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, but was surpassed by James on Saturday after his game against the Philadelphia 76ers. James paid tribute to Bryant with special Nike shoes during the game.
On Saturday evening, Bryant congratulated James on the milestone with a Twitter and Instagram post.
“On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next,” the retired star had shared on Instagram with a photo of him and James.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ?? #33644,” Bryant then also tweeted.
Many NBA players and coaches have been mourning Bryant’s death, including the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors who took a 24-second violation to nod to Bryant’s jersey number.
Adam Silver, the NBA’s commissioner and chief executive officer, issued a statement on Sunday night.
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” Silver’s statement began.
The statement continued: “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking a special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.”
“We send out heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world,” Silver’s statement concluded.
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.