Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead House manager in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, had spent the morning on news shows calling for more witnesses in the Senate process. Schiff, whose congressional district covers parts of L.A., later sent his thoughts and prayers to Byrant’s family, friends and all Lakers fans.
“I join the rest of Los Angeles in mourning the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others,” he tweeted. “One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe had a grace and athleticism unmatched in the NBA.”
Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, lamented on Twitter: “This is the worst news. Kobe is an all-time great who had his entire life ahead of him. Today Kobe is the greatest of all time.”
In Iowa, former Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner in the Democratic race, took the stage at a campaign event co-hosted by the NAACP. There were audible gasps at the news of the crash, and a moment of silence followed. Then Biden spoke.
“It makes you realize you gotta make every day count,” he said in Des Moines. “Every single solid day, every single day count.”
Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, entered the NBA after graduating from high school, becoming the league’s youngest player in 1996. A Philadelphia native and son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers during his entire 20-year career — winning five NBA titles with the team and two Olympic gold medals for the United States. He married his wife, Vanessa, in 2001, and after his sports career became a pop-culture icon and an Oscar winner for his 2017 short animated film, “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant’s legacy isn’t without controversy: In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel employee accused him of rape. Prosecutors later dropped the charges of sexual assault, but Bryant publicly apologized for what happened and settled a civil lawsuit filed by the accuser. Several fans acknowledged on social media that their grieving process is complicated.
The athlete’s death also came one day after the Lakers forward LeBron James surpassed Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. On Saturday night, Bryant had given a hearty congratulations on Twitter: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles tweeted shortly after the news broke: “Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.”
Several lawmakers, from Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii to Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, acknowledged the basketball legend’s death and impact over the course of the day. (Rubio tweeted a direct, “#ripkobe.”)
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) lambasted Trump for continuing to tweet about his ongoing impeachment trial as social media zeroed in on Bryant’s death.
Responding to one of Trump’s posts — “Nothing done wrong, READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” — Rush wrote: “We have literally just learned that a beloved role model to millions of Americans across the country has tragically died. Can you please shut your mouth and stop thinking about yourself for 24 hours? Please.”
Trump later tweeted: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”
Former President Barack Obama also shared his thoughts on Twitter, writing that Bryant, “a legend on the court,” was getting started in what would have been a just-as-meaningful “second act.”
“To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents,” he added. “Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Maya King contributed to this report.