MANILA – Malacañang is saddened by the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash into a hillside in Calabasas, California on Monday (Manila time).
“The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo described Bryant, who has won five NBA championships with Los Angeles Lakers and two Olympic gold medals for US men’s basketball, as "a master of his craft."
“On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring,” Panelo said.
“The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats,” he added.
Panelo also recalled how Bryant was a frequent visitor in the Philippines and was well-loved by his Filipino fans.
The five-time NBA champion first flew in Manila in 1998, just two years after he debuted in the NBA as an 18-year-old straight out of high school. His last visit was in 2016, just months after his retirement.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa and three daughters.
His death comes a day after Lakers star LeBron James passed him as No. 3 on the NBA all-time scoring list when he reached 33,645 points. Bryant finished with 33,643.
Bryant held that spot behind Hall of Famers, Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) and Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone (36,928 points).
US President Donald Trump also sent his condolences to Bryant’s family in a Tweet, describing the Lakers legend as having had “such a strong passion for the future.”
Reports showed that Bryant and his daughter were among nine people who died in the helicopter crash which caused a brush fire.
They were both expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a scheduled basketball game.
Authorities are currently investigating the crash which may have happened due to foggy conditions which did not meet the minimum standards for flying. (PNA)