Kobe Bryant death: Christian leaders pay tribute to NBA star, daughter Gianna, and crash victims

Mourners gather outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday following Kobe Bryant's death.Monica Almeida/Reuters

NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, died on Sunday after a helicopter he was travelling in crashed and burst into flames in Calabasas, California. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was also known as "Gigi," was also on board and died along with seven others.

Bryant, who was just 41-years-old when he died, won five NBA titles during his two-decade career with the Lakers, as well as two Olympic gold medals playing for the United States.  It has been reported that he was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter and their friends when the helicopter suffered critical problems.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed in a news conference there were no survivors, and despite earlier reports claiming there were just five people on board, he corrected that according to the flight manifest there were in fact nine people on board the helicopter.

Kobe Bryant with his daughter Gianna at the WNBA All Star Game at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas in July 2019.Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY via Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump reacted via his Twitter account: "Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating."

In a second tweet he added, "Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!"

Christian celebrities, pastors and other faith leaders have taken to social media to express their shock and sorrow at the tragic news.

Chad Veach of Zoe Church shared a photo on Instagram of Bryant hugging Gigi. "Devastating... prayers to the Bryant family and all those effected by today's tragedy.  LA will never be the same... i heard Bill Plaschke talk this week about Kobe being the most important Laker ever. An iconic leader that meant so much to this city and the world... unreal."

Bobby Houston of Hillson church said: "So very sad.... Life is so precious, fleeting and unpredictable. I have no connection to this world or these families, yet with many others, I feel deep sympathy for all their families. May "the peace that passes understanding" overshadow and grace them all. (Phil 4:7 NIV) "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Franklin Graham of Samaritan's Purse posted:  "Our deepest condolences and prayers for the families of NBA-great Kobe Bryant, his 13-yr-old daughter, and the other victims in this tragic helicopter crash in California today. Please remember them in your prayers.

"Anytime there is tragedy like this, it is a reminder of the brevity of life and that none of us know when we are going to have to stand before God and give an account for our lives. Are you ready?"

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant & daughter Gianna attended Sunday church service just hours before tragic death

Bishop Jakes of Potter's House said: "My heart is broken as Kobe Bryant is a national treasure to our country and a symbol of hope and fatherhood to our community. We are all rattled and reminded of our own mortality, humanity and that of those we love. So sad for Vanessa Bryant and the families of those whose candle light has disappeared on this side."

Actress Roma Downey said: "Rest in peace Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all-time (1978-2020).my heart goes out to his wife and children , praying for them and the other families who have lost loved ones in this terrible tragic accident."

Propel Women's Christine Caine said: "Like so many, I am devastated and heartbroken. My own girls pain and sorrow at this news cut deep. LA is mourning."

Hip-hop artist Lecrae said: "Lord We pray for the Bryant family. We pray for all those affected. We pray for the other families of those in the helicopter. We ask that your Spirit would be a comforter. In Jesus name."