US President Donald Trump and celebrities paid homage to retired basketball player Kobe Bryant after he died in a helicopter crash.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant, 41, died along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in the Southern California crash on Sunday morning.
Bryant’s death, widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time and one of the most high-profile sports figures in the United States, has been widely mourned.
Mr. Trump described the death of Bryant and Gianna as “devastating” and expressed his condolences to the widow “Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family”.
“Although Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he has only just started,” tweeted the president.
“He loved his family so much and had such a great passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter Gianna makes this moment even more devastating. “
Presenter Alicia Keys opened the Grammys in downtown LA by saying the ceremony was mourned after death.
“We’re all crazy sad because Los Angeles, America and the whole world have lost a hero today,” she said to those gathered at the Staples Center.
Thousands of devastating fans gathered outside to commemorate the team where Bryant had spent all 20 seasons of his NBA career.
Prominent personalities from music, film and politics also mourned the star before the award ceremony.
Kanye West tweeted a picture of herself with Bryant and wrote, “Kobe, we love you, brother. We pray for your family and appreciate the life you have lived and all the inspiration you have given.”
Taylor Swift tweeted: “My heart was torn to pieces when I heard the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t understand what families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and all of us.
“I send my prayers, my love and my endless condolences to Vanessa, the family and everyone who lost someone on this flight.”
Canadian singer Justin Bieber published a photo of the couple as a child titled, “It can’t be. You always encouraged me, Mamba. Gave me some of the best quotes we still smile about today. I love you, man ! “
Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon said she was “devastated”.
She tweeted: “Just devastated to hear from #KobeBryant. An exceptional athlete and a really nice, wonderful man. Send love, prayers and compassion to his family. His entire NBA family too. “
Former US President Barack Obama expressed condolences to the Bryant family and his wife Michelle.
He tweeted: “Kobe was a legend on the pitch and was just starting a second act that would have been just as meaningful. Losing Gianna is even more heartbreaking for us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day. “
College baseball coach John Altobelli was among the others on board the doomed helicopter. His death was confirmed by Orange Coast College, where he worked.
Drake posted a picture of a jacket with Bryant’s picture and the words “Farewell, Mamba”, a reference to the player’s nickname “Black Mamba”.
The jacket came from Bryant’s retirement in 2016 and the Canadian hip-hop artist wrote, “It can’t be.”