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27th Jan 2020

Katie Taylor and Ronan O’Gara lead Kobe Bryant tributes from Irish athletes

James Fenton

Katie Taylor and Ronan O’Gara are among the Irish sports stars paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna who lost their lives in a helicopter crash yesterday.

Legendary LA Lakers basketball star Kobe, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people who lost their lives in the accident which happened in the city of Calabasas at around 5.47pm Irish time on Sunday evening. Other people known to have lost their lives include baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, who was a basketball teammate of Gianna’s.

Since the news broke, tributes have been paid to Bryant from all over the world, and a number of NBA players were visibly emotional throughout their games yesterday. Bryant was also remembered at last night’s Grammy Awards which was held at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the home arena of the Lakers where he enjoyed so many memorable moments.

Here in Ireland, athletes have been paying their own tributes to Kobe Bryant, with boxer Katie Taylor, former Dublin footballer Jason Sherlock, golfer Rory McIlroy and former rugby star Ronan O’Gara among those offering their condolences…

Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia in 1978 to former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant. In the 1996/97 season, he became the youngest ever player to appear in an NBA game at the age of 18 years and 72 days.

Throughout a 20-year career, Kobe Bryant became one of the most recognisable names in the NBA, very much transcending the sport and helping to increase the profile of basketball around the world.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa as well as his three other daughters Natalia (17), Bianka (3) and Capri who was born in June 2019.