Kobe Bryant was not just a Los Angeles Lakers great, he was an NBA great, a world-wide phenomenon, an Oscar winner and an inspiration to many. is something he carried with him and something he taught not just his teammates, or his opponents, but all who watched him. He helped shape the play of those who came after him and those older than him sat in awe as he dominated the league for two decades.
When the shocking news of his sudden death following a helicopter crash that took the lives of all nine lives on board broke, the world, not just the NBA world, seemed to stop for a moment. Fans, former teammates, friends and those who admired from afar found it difficult to believe that someone larger than life could be gone so quickly.
Those mourning took to social media to tell Kobe stories andto drop flowers, jerseys, messages and basketballs off, coming together with other fans who they likely didn't know, but shared the unbreakable bond of loving No. 24 with.
Bryant often left people speechless. Where words fail, photos tend to get the job done, and the pictures of his life being re-shared have shown his growth, compassion for others and most of all his love for his family.
Here is a look at the life of Kobe Bryant through photos:
1996: Kobe Bryant, NBA Draft
A young Kobe Bryant decided to skip college and take his talents straight to the NBA. On July 11, 1996, he was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, who had an agreement with the Lakers and traded his rights to LA.
1996: Bryant poses with Lakers jersey
Later that night Bryant posed with his No. 8 Lakers jersey, complete with a Lakers hat and team banners behind him. Bryant chose No. 8 because his high school number, 24, was already taken and his other high school number, 33, is retired for the Lakers..
2000: Bryant wins first championship
A few years after the 17-year-old entered the league, he saw the payoff that players dream of accomplishing. Bryant hugged the trophy tight after the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals.
2001: The dunk vs. New Jersey Nets
Bryant soars at the Staples Center on New Year's Day in 2001, dunking against the Nets, who then called New Jersey home.
2001: Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Bryant and teammate Shaquille O'Neal put on a show in these NBA Finals. The Lakers won the series, 4-1, marking Bryant's second NBA championship victory.
After the news of Bryant's passing broke, O'Neal posted a a few messages to his friend along with photos. He said, "There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother [Bryant]. I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW."
2001: Bryant poses with championship trophy
Possibly the most iconic Kobe photo, here Bryant poses with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the 76ers in five games.
2002: Western Conference starting lineup for 2002 All-Star Game
Bryant and his Western Conference All-Star starting lineup teammates Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan posed for a photo in honor of the game.
, "You inspired so many around the world, including me. You will always be missed. You will always be remembered. You will always be loved. Rest in peace with your angel Gigi."
2003: Bryant and Michael Jordan talk during All-Star Game
Bryant, playing for the Western Conference, and Jordan, playing for the Eastern Conference talk during the first All-Star Game to go into double-overtime. The West won 155-145.
Bryant was no stranger to All-Star Game's, appearing in 18 during his time in the league. He was an All-Star 10 times wearing No. 8 and eight times wearing No. 24.
Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world."on his "little brother" Kobe saying, "Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the
2003: Bryant and wife Vanessa sit at the podium
On July 18, 2003, Bryant was joined by his wife Vanessa to speak in response to Kobe's felony sexual assault charges. The criminal charges were ultimately dropped and Bryant went on to settle a civil suit.
2004: Western Conference Finals
Bryant and O'Neal faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers went on to beat the Timberwolves in that series, but fell to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, losing the series 4-1.
2006: Bryant scores 81 points
On January 22, 2006, Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, marking the second-most points in a single game by a player in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain who recorded 100 points in one game.
2006: Bryant makes last-second game-winning shot in overtime
On April 30, 2006, Bryant hit a buzzer beater in overtime to sink the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Also pictured is former teammate Lamar Odom, who, after Bryant's death, said that given the option he would have gone in Kobe's place.
From Odom's Instagram post:
"He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court ... I'm glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure ... I know I been through my own stuff in life with using drugs and not being good to myself. When I went through that Coma situation if God would have came to me and said we would take me and spare Kobe I would have rather that happened. In honor of my brother I'm up at 4am tomorrow to get to the gym! Gigi gone give you buckets!!!! I love you brother."
2008: Gianna during postgame interview with her father
Following a home win against the Houston Rockets, Gianna, who shared the love of basketball with her father, joined him for an interview.
2008: The Beijing Olympics
Bryant and LeBron James, along with the rest of Team USA, took home the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bryant also secured gold in the 2012 Olympics in London.
2009: Kobe wins his fourth NBA championship
Bryant celebrated yet another championship with his family in 2009. Gianna looks at the Larry O'Brien trophy in amazement in front of her dad along with her mom, Vanessa, and her older sister, Natalia.
The Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in five games.
2010: Bryant visits the White House
After their championship run, the Lakers paid a visit to the White House and met with President Barack Obama.
2010: Bryant celebrates beating Celtics in the NBA Finals
Bryant, who grew up watching the great Boston Celtics-Lakers rivalry, not only got to be part of it, but got to be on the winning side. In June of 2010, Bryant and the Lakers beat their rivals in the Finals.
2010: Bryant family poses with his Kobe's final NBA championship trophy
It is only fitting that his last trophy in the NBA came against a team with such history with the Lakers. The Bryant squad threw up "five" to celebrate.
2016: Bryant's final game
Bryant called it a career in 2016. Here, No. 24 is headed to the bench, looking emotional as those around him applauded. Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game.
2017: Lakers retire both of Bryant's numbers
Bryant became the first NBA player to have two numbers retired by the same organization. No. 8 and No. 24 will never be worn by any Laker.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, retired No. 24 in his organization following Bryant's death.
2018: Bryant wins an Oscar
Bryant won an Academy Award for his short film "Dear Basketball," a love note and reflection to the game that made him who he was.
2019: Bryant and his daughters enjoy a USWNT game
Bryant and his daughters didn't just like basketball. They posed with USWNT star Megan Rapinoe during the team's 2019 victory tour.
2019: Kobe and Gianna catch a game
Bryant and his daughter were in attendance for the Lakers' game against the Dallas Mavericks to watch one of her favorite players, Luka Doncic, earlier this season.