Updated at 1:47 p.m. on Jan. 27
Former Los Angeles Lakers small forward and shooting guard Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported. Bryant, who was born in Philadelphia, played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed in the crash.
Bryant went straight to the NBA after he finished high school, but would visit the Liacouras Center for team workouts when the Lakers played the Philadelphia 76ers, according to Sports Illustrated.
Temple men’s basketball coach Aaron McKie was teammates with Bryant for two years with the Lakers from 2005-07. He released a statement on Twitter Sunday night.
“You dedicated your life to the game of basketball and being great,” McKie wrote. “So many of us are thankful for that. What made you great was that you were a historian and student of the game. You studied the players before you and the ones that followed. Your work ethic was unmatched. You always had the answers for the test so the game came easy for you. You mastered the game of basketball and were well on your way to mastering the game of life. You had a brilliant mind. You were a loving husband and father. My thoughts are prayers are with the Bryant family, and the other families impacted by this tragedy.”
Several members of the men’s basketball team retweeted McKie’s statement, including junior forward J.P. Moorman II. Moorman also retweeted a tweet by Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix and added, “For some of us basketball is that escape from the rest of the chaos that goes on in this world.”
Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis called Bryant his idol.
Junior forward Justyn Hamilton and sophomore guard Tai Strickland expressed disbelief when the news first broke. Strickland added he felt like he “lost a family member.”
Bryant knew former Temple men’s basketball coach John Chaney, Sports Illustrated reported in 2015. Chaney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Bryant’s sister, Sharia Bryant, graduated from Temple’s Fox School of Business in 1998. She was on the volleyball team from 1993-97. She was an Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team member in 1997. She was also the Most Valuable Player of the 1997 Atlantic 10 Championship-winning team during her time at Temple.
Sharia Bryant is eighth all-time in career kills for the Owls with 1,403. She could not be reached for comment.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Gianna Bryant is Kobe Bryant’s oldest daughter. She is his second-oldest daughter.