The grieving process has begun for fans of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Shortly after it was announced that Bryant and several others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning, fans began assembling a memorial for Bryant directly outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Bryant wowed fans for two decades.
I can’t even believe this is real... right now outside Staples. 💔 pic.twitter.com/yuunIbG2Ms— Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) January 26, 2020
A large group of fans are in the plaza across from Staples Center to celebrate the life of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/jqUsikn2sT— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 26, 2020
"He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement, via ABC. "This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe's entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief."
The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 career points, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and 18-time NBA All-Star who was named the league's Most Valuable Player in 2008. He was twice an NBA Finals MVP and an 11-time All-NBA First Team selection. The two-time NBA scoring champion was known just as much for his prowess on the other end of the court, picking up nine selections to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
A Philadelphia native, Bryant was the youngest player in league history when he first stepped on an NBA court in 1996. He spent his entirety of 20-year career with the Lakers and played more games in the Purple-and-Gold than anyone else in franchise history. He is the Lakers' all-time leader in points, minutes and steals, and he became the first -- and only -- player in NBA history to have multiple jerseys retired by a single franchise when the Lakers raised both No. 8 and No. 24 to the rafters in 2017.
"We are stunned and saddened by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant," the National Basketball Players Association said in a statement. "Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family."
Bryant was one of the most popular, and revered players, in NBA history, let alone Lakers lore. His legacy and the impact that he had on the game of basketball will not soon be forgotten.