World of football pays tribute to NBA great Kobe Bryant

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Cristiano Ronaldo has labelled Kobe Bryant a "true legend" joining a chorus of football stars paying their respects after the Los Angeles Lakers great died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna, passed away along with seven others after the helicopter he was travelling in crashed near the Californian city of Calabasas in Los Angeles County.

Figures from across the world of football paid tribute to the former Lakers star.

Five-time NBA champion Bryant transcended basketball after his selection in the 1996 draft, going on to spend his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.

"You were a genius like few others". That was the message from Barcelona captain Lionel Messi after the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote on Instagram: "I have no words… all my love for Kobe's family and friends.

"It was a pleasure to meet you and share good times together. You were a genius like few others."

Ronaldo follwed suit posting on Twitter after his Juventus side's 2-1 loss to Napoli.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar scored twice as the Ligue 1 leaders ran out 2-0 victors over Lille, and dedicated his second goal to Bryant by holding up two fingers on one hand and four on the other – Bryant having worn the number 24 jersey for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Following the final whistle, Neymar – a basketball fan – hailed Bryant's impact, stating his death is a sad moment for the entire world of sport.

"I looked at the messages at half-time," Neymar told Canal+. "This is a time of immense sadness for the world of sport and for all of us, not just basketball fans.

"I knew him and I made this celebration to pay tribute to him. I hope he rests in peace."

Former legends of the game including Maradona, Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo also shared their condolences on social media.

A lifelong football fan, Bryant was a major supporter of the US Women's National Team as well as AC Milan.

Bryant was the face of the Lakers, even after his retirement in 2016.

The guard earned MVP honours in 2008, while he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals.

Bryant was also an 18-time All-Star to go with numerous other accolades, including two Olympic Games gold medals with the United States.

Source Omnisport