Argentine professional footballer Lionel Messi expressed his grief over the death of legendary American basketball player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash on Monday. Bryant, 41, who spent 20 years with the basketball team Lakers, was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames on Monday morning amid foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas, 48 km north-west of Los Angeles.
Lionel Messi took to Instagram to share a photo of Kobe Bryant and wrote in Spanish, "I have no words... All my love to Kobe's family and friends. It was a pleasure knowing you and share good times together. You were a genius like few others."
Coincidently, Kobe Bryant aka 'Black Mamba', shared his thoughts about soccer legends Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in one of his final interviews before his untimely death. In an interview with a US TV news network, Bryant said that he thought Messi was one of the best athletes of all time. "The tenacity, the intelligence with which he plays as well as skill puts him head and shoulder above the rest.”
Bryant and Messi had developed a friendship several years ago, thanks to the love they both share for soccer and passion for sports that run within. When Bryant retired in 2016, the Barcelona captain even wished his friend “all the best” on his official social media account as the legend approaches life after basketball.
It was reported that other than Kobe Bryant and his daughter, the helicopter was ferrying seven other people. The crash ignited brushfires, making it hard for rescue crews to get close to the site. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that he would not confirm who had died until all the next of kin have been notified. Bryant’s death stunned Los Angeles and the sports world, which mourned one of basketball’s greatest players. Sources said that the helicopter took off from Orange County, where Bryant lived.