That American basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s passing sent shockwaves around the world highlights his status as one of the greatest sportsmen in this lifetime.
From presidents to paupers, as tributes poured for Bryant, who, together with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was killed in a helicopter crash, the world reminisced about The Mamba’s exploits on and off the court.
Not only did Bryant dominate the basketball world but he also impacted the beautiful game.
From superstar Ronaldinho introducing the LA Lakers legend to Lionel Messi at Barcelona to him strutting onto the football pitch in Soweto, Bryant’s inspiration knew no boundaries.
In 2010, Bryant, a Nike Athlete, visited Nike Centre in Soweto to inspire aspiring footballers. Known for his relentless pursuit for greatness, a winning mentality and an unmatched work ethic, Bryant inspired many an athlete in their quest for excellence.
The South African football fraternity and the world took to social media to pay tribute to arguably one of the greatest basketball players.
“Tonight the Amakhosi Family mourns the loss of a true Legend, RIP Kobe Bryant, we send our condolences to the Bryant family and the world of sport at large. We are shocked and sad to see such a phenomenal athlete leave us,” read a tweet from Kaizer Chiefs.
Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena derived inspiration from the decorated star, who won five NBA Championships.
“I was speaking to the players last year about him… his mentality. His relentless drive for excellence and success. His unrelenting pursuit for greatness. An incredible baller! A serial winner! A true sporting legend,” Mokwena wrote on his Twitter.
Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi wrote on Facebook: “Farewell Kobe. Mamba out. My muse.”
Kaizer Chiefs forward Lebo Manyama described Bryant as the greatest of all-time on Instagram. “Rest GOAT.”
Bloemfontein Celtic keeper Jackson Mabokwane paid tribute on his social media. He posted Byant’s picture on his WhatsApp status accompanied by the caption: “Rest soldier, you ran your race.”
Sportscaster Carol Tshabalala also took to Instagram to hail the legendary figure. She wrote: “RIP Champ. Thank you for the inspiration, for the greatness”.
GladAfrica Championship side Ajax Cape Town quoted Bryant in their tweet.
“Tragic news, rest well Kobe and Gianna Bryant and to all the other members lost in the accident. Our role in life is too inspire others so that they are able to inspire more” Kobe’Mamba’ Bryant.”
Elsewhere in the world, Portugal and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo saluted the man from Philadelphia. “So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna. Kobe was a true legend and inspiration to so many. Sending my condolences to his family and friends and the families of all who lost their lives in the crash,” CR7 posted on his Twitter.
Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk also joined in eulogizing the famous number 24 on Twitter. “Speechless, heartbreaking! Our thoughts are with the Bryant Family in these horrible times.”
By Hosea Ramphekwa