(CNN)It’s hard to believe NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, whose prodigious talent and fiery, win-at-all-costs spirit made him one of the most famous and decorated athletes in history, is gone.

He was the rare celebrity who didn’t need a last name. Oprah. LeBron. Beyonce. Kobe. Everyone knew who you were talking about.Still youthful at 41, Bryant — who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in California — looked like he could suit up and drop 30 points on a rival NBA team. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was scoring 60 points in his final NBA game, soaking up the cheers of Los Angeles Lakers fans who worshiped him for two decades as one of the city’s favorite sons.After his 20-year NBA career — all with the Lakers — Bryant is all but assured of being a first-ballot inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.”He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force,” said fellow NBA icon Michael Jordan.Read MoreKobe Bryant ended his 20-year career in the NBA on April 13. Here, the Los Angeles Lakers player looks back while taking on the Utah Jazz during his final game.Kobe Bryant ended his 20-year career in the NBA on April 13. Here, the Los Angeles Lakers player looks back while taking on the Utah Jazz during his final game. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerKobe Bryant ended his 20-year career in the NBA on April 13. Here, the Los Angeles Lakers player looks back while taking on the Utah Jazz during his final game.Hide Caption 1 of 25Bryant plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 28, 2015. In November, Bryant announced his intention to retire at the end of the current NBA season.Bryant plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 28, 2015. In November, Bryant announced his intention to retire at the end of the current NBA season. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 28, 2015. In November, Bryant announced his intention to retire at the end of the current NBA season.Hide Caption 2 of 25Bryant broke a bone in his left knee in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17, 2013. He finished the game, but team doctors determined that he fractured the lateral tibial plateau of his left knee. The injury benched him for the rest of the season. Bryant broke a bone in his left knee in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17, 2013. He finished the game, but team doctors determined that he fractured the lateral tibial plateau of his left knee. The injury benched him for the rest of the season. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant broke a bone in his left knee in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17, 2013. He finished the game, but team doctors determined that he fractured the lateral tibial plateau of his left knee. The injury benched him for the rest of the season. Hide Caption 3 of 25Bryant is injured in the second half while playing the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013. The injury took him out of the rest of the 2012-2013 season.Bryant is injured in the second half while playing the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013. The injury took him out of the rest of the 2012-2013 season. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant is injured in the second half while playing the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013. The injury took him out of the rest of the 2012-2013 season.Hide Caption 4 of 25Bryant vies with Argentinian forward Leonardo Gutierrez during the USA men's basketball preliminary round match at the London Olympic Games on August 6, 2012. Bryant vies with Argentinian forward Leonardo Gutierrez during the USA men's basketball preliminary round match at the London Olympic Games on August 6, 2012. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant vies with Argentinian forward Leonardo Gutierrez during the USA men’s basketball preliminary round match at the London Olympic Games on August 6, 2012. Hide Caption 5 of 25U.S. first lady Michelle Obama hugs Bryant after the  United States played France at the Olympics on July 29, 2012.U.S. first lady Michelle Obama hugs Bryant after the  United States played France at the Olympics on July 29, 2012. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerU.S. first lady Michelle Obama hugs Bryant after the United States played France at the Olympics on July 29, 2012.Hide Caption 6 of 25Bryant reverse dunks over Grant Hill, No. 33, and Marcin Gortat, No. 4, of the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on January 10, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 99-83.Bryant reverse dunks over Grant Hill, No. 33, and Marcin Gortat, No. 4, of the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on January 10, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 99-83. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant reverse dunks over Grant Hill, No. 33, and Marcin Gortat, No. 4, of the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center on January 10, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 99-83.Hide Caption 7 of 25Bryant dunks in the third quarter against the New Orleans Hornets in game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011, at Staples Center.Bryant dunks in the third quarter against the New Orleans Hornets in game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011, at Staples Center. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant dunks in the third quarter against the New Orleans Hornets in game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011, at Staples Center.Hide Caption 8 of 25Bryant joins a teaching session for fans during a promotional tour of South Korea at Korea University on July 14, 2011, in Seoul.Bryant joins a teaching session for fans during a promotional tour of South Korea at Korea University on July 14, 2011, in Seoul. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant joins a teaching session for fans during a promotional tour of South Korea at Korea University on July 14, 2011, in Seoul.Hide Caption 9 of 25U.S. President Barack Obama chats with Bryant at a Boys and Girls Club in Washington on December 13, 2010. Obama welcomed the Lakers to honor their 2009-2010 season and their second consecutive NBA championship. U.S. President Barack Obama chats with Bryant at a Boys and Girls Club in Washington on December 13, 2010. Obama welcomed the Lakers to honor their 2009-2010 season and their second consecutive NBA championship. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerU.S. President Barack Obama chats with Bryant at a Boys and Girls Club in Washington on December 13, 2010. Obama welcomed the Lakers to honor their 2009-2010 season and their second consecutive NBA championship. Hide Caption 10 of 25Bryant celebrates after winning the 2010 NBA Finals championship in June 2010.Bryant celebrates after winning the 2010 NBA Finals championship in June 2010. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant celebrates after winning the 2010 NBA Finals championship in June 2010.Hide Caption 11 of 25Bryant shoots a jumper over Carmelo Anthony, No. 15 of the Denver Nuggets, in the fourth quarter of game one of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 105-103.Bryant shoots a jumper over Carmelo Anthony, No. 15 of the Denver Nuggets, in the fourth quarter of game one of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 105-103. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant shoots a jumper over Carmelo Anthony, No. 15 of the Denver Nuggets, in the fourth quarter of game one of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2009. The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 105-103.Hide Caption 12 of 25Bryant celebrates after game five of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009, in Orlando. The Lakers won 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.Bryant celebrates after game five of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009, in Orlando. The Lakers won 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant celebrates after game five of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009, in Orlando. The Lakers won 99-86 for their 15th title and first since 2002. Bryant had 30 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the Lakers completed a four-games-to-one victory in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.Hide Caption 13 of 25Bryant holds his daughter, Gianna, after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals on June 14, 2009.Bryant holds his daughter, Gianna, after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals on June 14, 2009. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant holds his daughter, Gianna, after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals on June 14, 2009.Hide Caption 14 of 25Bryant accepts the best team award on behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers from musician Stevie Wonder during the 2009 ESPY Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on July 15, 2009, in Los Angeles.Bryant accepts the best team award on behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers from musician Stevie Wonder during the 2009 ESPY Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on July 15, 2009, in Los Angeles. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant accepts the best team award on behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers from musician Stevie Wonder during the 2009 ESPY Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on July 15, 2009, in Los Angeles.Hide Caption 15 of 25Bryant rides the Matterhorn Bobsleds with Jonathan Guerrero, 4, and his father, David Guerrero of Pomona, California, at Disneyland on June 18, 2009, in Anaheim, California. The Guerreros were among thousands of Lakers fans who turned out for a special Disneyland parade honoring the Lakers' 15th World Championship.Bryant rides the Matterhorn Bobsleds with Jonathan Guerrero, 4, and his father, David Guerrero of Pomona, California, at Disneyland on June 18, 2009, in Anaheim, California. The Guerreros were among thousands of Lakers fans who turned out for a special Disneyland parade honoring the Lakers' 15th World Championship. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant rides the Matterhorn Bobsleds with Jonathan Guerrero, 4, and his father, David Guerrero of Pomona, California, at Disneyland on June 18, 2009, in Anaheim, California. The Guerreros were among thousands of Lakers fans who turned out for a special Disneyland parade honoring the Lakers’ 15th World Championship.Hide Caption 16 of 25Bryant, top, and New Jersey Nets guard Kerry Kittles fight for a rebound in the first quarter on April 3, 2002, at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Bryant, top, and New Jersey Nets guard Kerry Kittles fight for a rebound in the first quarter on April 3, 2002, at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant, top, and New Jersey Nets guard Kerry Kittles fight for a rebound in the first quarter on April 3, 2002, at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Hide Caption 17 of 25Bryant appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at NBC Studios on June 28, 2001, in Burbank, California.Bryant appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at NBC Studios on June 28, 2001, in Burbank, California. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant appears on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at NBC Studios on June 28, 2001, in Burbank, California.Hide Caption 18 of 25Vlade Divac, No. 21 of the Sacramento Kings, jumps for the ball against Bryant during game four of the Western Conference Semifinals at Arco Arena on May 13, 2001, in Sacramento, California.Vlade Divac, No. 21 of the Sacramento Kings, jumps for the ball against Bryant during game four of the Western Conference Semifinals at Arco Arena on May 13, 2001, in Sacramento, California. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerVlade Divac, No. 21 of the Sacramento Kings, jumps for the ball against Bryant during game four of the Western Conference Semifinals at Arco Arena on May 13, 2001, in Sacramento, California.Hide Caption 19 of 25Bryant goes in for a slam dunk against the New Jersey Nets in January 2001.Bryant goes in for a slam dunk against the New Jersey Nets in January 2001. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant goes in for a slam dunk against the New Jersey Nets in January 2001.Hide Caption 20 of 25Bryant hugs his fiance, Vanessa Laine, while in the locker room after the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in game six of the 2000 NBA Finals to win the series 4-2 on June 19, 2000, in Los Angeles. Bryant later married Laine, and they have two children.Bryant hugs his fiance, Vanessa Laine, while in the locker room after the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in game six of the 2000 NBA Finals to win the series 4-2 on June 19, 2000, in Los Angeles. Bryant later married Laine, and they have two children. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant hugs his fiance, Vanessa Laine, while in the locker room after the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers in game six of the 2000 NBA Finals to win the series 4-2 on June 19, 2000, in Los Angeles. Bryant later married Laine, and they have two children.Hide Caption 21 of 25Bryant, center, is restrained by teammate Ron Harper, left, and assistant coach Jim Cleamons after a confrontation with New York Knicks guard Chris Childs on April 2, 2000, at Staples Center. Both players were ejected and the Lakers went on to defeat the Knicks 106-82.Bryant, center, is restrained by teammate Ron Harper, left, and assistant coach Jim Cleamons after a confrontation with New York Knicks guard Chris Childs on April 2, 2000, at Staples Center. Both players were ejected and the Lakers went on to defeat the Knicks 106-82. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant, center, is restrained by teammate Ron Harper, left, and assistant coach Jim Cleamons after a confrontation with New York Knicks guard Chris Childs on April 2, 2000, at Staples Center. Both players were ejected and the Lakers went on to defeat the Knicks 106-82.Hide Caption 22 of 25Lakers player Shaquille O'Neal, right, hugs teammate Bryant on June 14, 2000, after the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers in game four of the NBA Finals at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Lakers won the game 120-118 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven game series.  Lakers player Shaquille O'Neal, right, hugs teammate Bryant on June 14, 2000, after the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers in game four of the NBA Finals at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Lakers won the game 120-118 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven game series.  Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerLakers player Shaquille O’Neal, right, hugs teammate Bryant on June 14, 2000, after the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers in game four of the NBA Finals at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Lakers won the game 120-118 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven game series. Hide Caption 23 of 25Bryant sits on the sidelines during the Euro ABC camp in Berlin on July 7, 1999.Bryant sits on the sidelines during the Euro ABC camp in Berlin on July 7, 1999. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant sits on the sidelines during the Euro ABC camp in Berlin on July 7, 1999.Hide Caption 24 of 25Bryant eyes the basket during the NBA Slam Dunk contest on February 8, 1997, at Gund Arena in Cleveland. Bryant is the youngest player to win the contest.Bryant eyes the basket during the NBA Slam Dunk contest on February 8, 1997, at Gund Arena in Cleveland. Bryant is the youngest player to win the contest. Photos: Kobe Bryant's careerBryant eyes the basket during the NBA Slam Dunk contest on February 8, 1997, at Gund Arena in Cleveland. Bryant is the youngest player to win the contest.Hide Caption 25 of 2501 kobe bryant final game 0413kobe bryant 1028 FILEkobe dec 2013Kobe Bryant22 kobe bryant21 kobe bryant20 kobe bryant18 kobe bryant19 kobe bryant17 kobe bryantRESTRICTED 02 kobe FILE12 kobe bryant13 kobe bryant14 kobe bryant16 kobe bryant15 kobe bryant08 kobe bryant03 kobe bryant01 kobe bryantRESTRICTED 01 kobe FILE04 kobe bryant05 kobe bryant07 kobe bryant11 kobe bryant10 kobe bryantAn 18-time All-Star, Bryant was known for his remarkable scoring ability — his turnaround jumper was nearly unstoppable — and his championship pedigree. He teamed with fellow All-Star Shaquille O’Neal to win three consecutive NBA titles from 2000 to 2002 and later won two more rings, in 2009 and 2010.Known as the Black Mamba — a nickname he gave himself — Bryant twice led the NBA in scoring and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008.Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was with her father on the helicopter and was also killed in the crash, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.Kobe Bryant was grooming his daughter Gianna to carry on his legacyKobe Bryant was grooming his daughter Gianna to carry on his legacyKobe Bryant was grooming his daughter Gianna to carry on his legacy“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,” said O’Neal on Twitter. “My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.”O’Neal later went on to write in a separate post: “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. We love our families. Whenever we got together I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”R.I.P”He entered the NBA at age 17Bryant was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, gave him the namesake after seeing a type of steak on a restaurant menu. Kobe beef is from a species of cattle, Wagyu, raised in the Kobe region of Japan.He lived in Italy from the age of six to 13 while his father played professional basketball, and he spoke Italian fluently. In one of his final interviews before he died, Bryant told CNN how he developed a love of soccer in Italy but also witnessed racism before moving back to the United States.”When I was growing up in Italy, I’ve obviously witnessed it firsthand going to certain soccer matches and things of that nature,” Bryant told CNN’s Andy Scholes. “My parents have taught me and educated me on how to deal with those sorts of things.”Kobe Bryant Fast FactsKobe Bryant Fast FactsKobe Bryant Fast FactsBryant played high school basketball at Lower Merion in Pennsylvania.”This is a difficult day for everyone in our school community,” said Amy Buckman, a spokeswoman for Lower Merion School District. “Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School, where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA, has raised the profile of our high school and our district throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater, including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant gymnasium and his support of our girls and boys basketball teams.”Bryant went straight from high school to the NBA, drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick of the 1996 draft, making him the youngest NBA player in history at age 17. Bryant was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for veteran center Vlade Divac.Kobe Bryant's greatest moments in his 20-year NBA careerKobe Bryant's greatest moments in his 20-year NBA careerKobe Bryant's greatest moments in his 20-year NBA careerHe soon became one of the most decorated players in NBA history and also won two Olympic gold medals for USA men’s basketball, in 2008 and 2012.Off the court his dazzling smile sold everything from Nike shoes to McDonald’s hamburgers.There was controversy, however, when Bryant was accused of sexual assaulting a 19-year-old Colorado hotel worker in 2003. Bryant insisted the encounter was consensual. The criminal sexual assault charge was dropped in 2004, and the accuser agreed to settle her civil lawsuit against Bryant in 2005.LeBron James: ‘Kobe is a legend, that’s for damn sure’At 6 feet, 6 inches, Bryant could run the point or play shooting guard, even though his position was small forward.One of the most memorable games in NBA history came on January 22, 2006, when Bryant scored 81 points in a Lakers’ 122-104 win over Toronto. Only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962 tops this performance.And in his final game of his career in 2016, the Black Mamba did it his way, dropping 60 points — on 50 shots — in a Lakers win against the Utah Jazz at a frenzied Staples Center in Los Angeles.Kobe Bryant: Remembering the final game of 'The Black Mamba'Kobe Bryant: Remembering the final game of 'The Black Mamba'Kobe Bryant: Remembering the final game of 'The Black Mamba'Bryant finished his NBA career with 33,643 points. A day before he died, he was passed by another Laker and superstar, LeBron James, on the league’s all-time scoring list. James accomplished the feat in — of all places — Philadelphia, against the 76ers.Bryant took to Twitter after James passed him, writing, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”James, who had “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” in gold marker on his sneakers before Saturday’s game, talked after the game about Bryant’s influence on him.”The story is just too much,” James said Saturday night. “It doesn’t make sense. … Now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from… it’s surreal.”James — who, like Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school — said Bryant was someone he looked up to when he was in grade school and high school.See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's touching Kobe tributeSee Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's touching Kobe tributeSee Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's touching Kobe tributeJUST WATCHEDSee Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s touching Kobe tributeReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

See Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s touching Kobe tribute 02:00″Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration,” James said. “It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation.”He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling and it’s dope.”Kobe’s a legend, that’s for damn sure.”He coached his daughter, GiannaBryant married wife Vanessa in 2001. They had four daughters: Natalia (born in 2003), Gianna (2006), Bianka (2016) and Capri (2019).He and his daughter Gianna were expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Bryant was to coach his daughter’s team in the game.Bryant said that he had watched little basketball after retiring — in 2018, he won an Oscar for best animated short for “Dear Basketball,” which was based on a poem he wrote — but Gianna’s love of the game sparked his interest in coaching her team.Kobe Bryant left his mark on Hollywood, tooKobe Bryant left his mark on Hollywood, tooKobe Bryant left his mark on Hollywood, tooThe two were seen together at numerous NBA games recently, and videos of Gianna’s basketball skills went viral despite her just being 13.Bryant described Gianna as “hellbent” on going to the University of Connecticut, the alma mater of Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore, two players Bryant recently told CNN “could play in the NBA right now.””The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.”For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary … But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.”

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