NBA stars, celebrities mourn Kobe Bryant's death on day of memorial

Thousands of people gathered in the Staples Center to memorialize Kobe and Gianna Bryant, while even more took to social media to pay their respects.
/ Source: TODAY

As crowds gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, fans of Kobe and Gianna Bryant took to social media to pay their respects to the pair who died too soon.

In a moving memorial for the father and daughter killed in a helicopter crash last month, Vanessa Bryant, Michael Jordan and others took to the stage to remember their loved ones with speeches and songs.

After the ceremony, many NBA stars and celebrities — as well as fans — paid their respects. “Kobe” became one of the top trending topics on social media.

Former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez wrote a heartfelt thread about his “good friend” Kobe Bryant and his daughter after attending the memorial.

“Kobe was greatness. As a basketball player, as a businessman, as a film-maker & most importantly, as a Dad. Greatness, always. I think about him everyday & miss him always,” he said. “Our time is short on this earth. Live in the moment. Hug your loved ones. Work hard each day. Be passionate. Be thankful. Live like Kobe RIP Mamba. RIP GiGi. To all the families affected by this tragedy, we are all thinking of you & here for you. 2/24 forever.”

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart echoed Rodriguez’s sentiments, writing he was “still having trouble” processing the loss.

“Life is so short & can be taken for granted. Please love while you can...Please communicate with your friends & family while you can,” Hart wrote, going on to urge his followers to let go of grudges.

“My prayers are still with the families of all of the passengers that were on that helicopter. Kobe your legacy & mentality will live forever... RIP,” he added.

Model Naomi Campbell kept her message short, sharing a video produced by Nike in honor of the late Lakers legend.

“Forever. Rest In Peace Kobe & Gianna,” Campbell tweeted.

Tennis star Serena Williams posted twice Monday, once to share the Nike video and another time to simply say "#mambamambacitaforever" with a graphic of the date.

Vanessa Bryant explained the significance of the date when she announced the memorial service on Instagram earlier this month.

"#2, #24, #20 years as a Laker and the amount of years Kob and I were together," she wrote at the time.

Lebron James wrote simply “2/24” with an infinity symbol and purple and yellow heart emoji.

James previously posted a heartfelt tribute to his late friend, writing he hoped to continue to follow in Bryant’s footsteps.

“I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this s--- on my back and keep it going!!” he wrote. “Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here!”

James previously referred to Bryant as his “big brother” — which is especially poignant, since Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan called Bryant his “little brother” in a moving speech Monday.

It was clear Bryant was an inspiration to many players and athletes. Trae Young from the Atlanta Hawks posted simply, “Kobe was my Jordan.”

Ja Morant, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, tweeted several times Monday, writing “still don’t believe it” during the memorial.

P.K. Subban, an NHL player for the New Jersey Devils, shared a photo on Instagram of himself with Bryant.

“Rest easy,” Subban wrote in the caption.

Sen. Kamala Harris also posted about the ceremony online, writing about the courage Vanessa Bryant displayed in her moving eulogy.

“What a beautiful tribute to Kobe and Gigi today. Vanessa courageously speaking about the loves of her life during this difficult time—in front of millions of people across our nation, no less—is a testament to her strength and her love,” Harris tweeted.

Thousands gathered Monday to pay tribute to NBA legend at the Staples Center.Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Actress Octavia Spencer wrote that Los Angeles “sent them off beautifully” with the celebration of life memorial and “all of the speakers were amazing.”

“But this moment when her voice broke… it broke me into a million pieces,” Spencer said of Vanessa Bryant’s eulogy. “I pray for all of the family who lost loved ones in that tragic accident!”

Singer Ciara also wrote on Instagram about Vanessa Bryant’s strength in the face of such tragedy.

“You are the true definition of a Woman,” she wrote. “I admire your strength, grace, and resilience. Truly so proud of you. I know God is proud. Kobe and Gi Gi are smiling down on you. We love you and the girls @VanessaBryant … Heaven is Rejoicing Today.”