Kobe Bryant: Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, IOC boss mourn

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As the world reacts to the shocking death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash at the age of 41 on Sunday, footballers and sports administrators around the world have expressed their sadness on his passing alongside his 13 year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

Kobe Bryant was a massive football fan who famously supported AC Milan while also participating in commercials alongside the likes of Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi.

The likes of Barcelona star Lionel Messi, Juventus attacker Cristiano Ronaldo paid glowing tributes to the five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist who is survived by a wife and three daughters.

Lionel Messi called the former LA Lakers great, a ‘genius’ in a post on Instagram, adding that it was a pleasure to meet him.

“I have no words… all my love for Kobe’s family and friends,” Messi wrote. “It was a pleasure to meet you and share good times together. You were a genius like few others.”

Cristiano Ronaldo added that the death of the world class athlete and his daughter was heartbreaking and was sending his condolences to his family and everyone who lost a loved one in the crash.

“So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna,” the Juventus forward posted on his Instagram page. 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. RIP Legend”

Also reacting to the shocking news, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach said: “Kobe was an outstanding and true Olympic champion. He embraced the power of sport to change people’s lives.

“After retiring from the game he loved so much, he continued to support the Olympic Movement and was an inspiration for the Olympic Games LA 2028.

“We will all miss his energy and his humble nature. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and all the other victims.”