Shaquille "Shaq" O’Neal is mourning the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant. As it turns out, Shaq and Kobe had more in common than being former Los Angeles Lakers superstars.
The world all over was thrown into shock and mourning yesterday with the news that Kobe and his daughter had died in a helicopter crash. One of Kobe’s most iconic collaborators, Shaq, is understandably heartbroken.
Shaquille O'Neal at the 2019 NBA Awards on June 24, 2019 in California | Photo: Getty Images
The 47-year-old retired NBA player took to Twitter with four snapshots capturing some of his best memories with Kobe. Both players, per FTW, won three straight championships together with the L.A. Lakers.\
Memorials have been set up in several places, including the Lakers’ arena, Staples Center.
"There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice (sic) Gigi & my brother @kobebryant," Shaq confessed. "I love u, and u will be missed."
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant watch during day 2 of the Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships on July 26, 2018 in California | Photo: Getty Images
Shaq also extended his condolences to the entire Bryant family and the families of everyone else who perished in the crash. "I’M SICK RIGHT NOW," he added. In a subsequent tweet, Shaq revealed his more personal connection to Kobe.
"Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common," he tweeted. "I would hug his children like they were my own, and he would embrace my kids like they were his."
Alongside the post which also included a photo of Kobe hugging Shaq’s kids, the latter revealed Gigi and his youngest daughter, Mearah O’Neal, were born on the same day, May 1, 2006.
Kobe and Shaq have a lot of history as teammates during their time with the L.A. Lakers. Even though they were always plagued with feud rumors, Kobe put those to rest with a tweet in August 2019.
As E! News noted, Kobe and Shaq both signed on to the Lakers in 1996, with Kobe making history at the time as the youngest player in NBA history. While Shaq was later traded to the Miami Heat, Kobe spent his entire career with the Lakers before retiring in 2016.
Per Sports Illustrated, earlier this month, Shaq bragged that he and Kobe would definitely beat LeBron James and Anthony Davis if they ever faced off in a 2-on-2 game.
Kobe Bryant poses with his family after both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on Dec. 18, 2017 in California | Photo: Getty Images
Sadly, Kobe would never have the opportunity to play again after losing his life in the private helicopter crash that took place on Sunday, January 26, and claimed the lives of seven other people.
According to the New York Times, Kobe and Gigi were on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. The teenager was a promising basketball star while Kobe served as a coach for her junior league.
Kobe and Gigi’s aircraft reportedly went down at around 10:00 am on a hillside in Calabasas. The helicopter burst into flames immediately, and even though emergency personnel responded, no passenger survived.
Sports fans and even non-sport fans who felt Kobe’s far-reaching impact have been mourning the death of him and Gigi since yesterday. Memorials have been set up in several places, including the Lakers’ arena, Staples Center.
Kobe, who was 41, is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant, and three daughters – Natalia, 17, Bianka, three, and baby Capri, seven months.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bryants and the families of all those who lost their lives in the crash as they go through this tragic time.