NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal expressed “pain” and sadness at the sudden and tragic passing of his former teammate Kobe Bryant, and his “niece” Gianna Maria Onore Bryant.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, also known as GiGi, were en route to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy, when their Sikorsky s-76 helicopter crashed. All nine people aboard were killed.
O’Neal took to Twitter to express his grief at news of their passing.
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant 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 pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
O’Neal and Bryant powered the Lakers to three consecutive championships between 2000 and 2002. While the pair produced championships and tons of winning on the floor, eventually the egos of the two superstars became too much even for an organization known for dealing with egos, and they parted ways.
However, later in life, the two pushed whatever differences they may have had in Los Angeles aside, and developed a genuine friendship that lasted the rest of Bryant’s life. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and three daughters — Natalia, Bianca, and newborn Capri.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn