Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is mourning the death of NBA legend of Kobe Bryant. In an emotional Instagram post, Mayfield reacted to the Sunday, Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others, calling it "one of the saddest" days of his life and the day on which the world lost "a hero."
View this post on Instagram
"Prayers to the Bryant family for Kobe and Gigi," Mayfield wrote. "To the others and their families involved in the terrible accident. God bless your families and know that you have more support around you than you realize. We cannot imagine, we can only support. Lean on us and hug somebody you love today."
"Today is one of the saddest days of my life," Mayfield wrote in the accompanying photo. "Kobe Bryant was my idol. His mentality and drive were unmatched. His approach to sports and really everything in his life are what I've strived to accomplish."
"I had the pleasure of hearing him speak to our team in Denver 2018 and I still go back to his inspirational words when I'm preparing to take the field," he continued, going on to call his business approach "unmatched."
"My first business acquisition was because of him," he recalled. "His approach was unmatched. He never took 'No' for an answer. He'll be remembered as one of the greatest ever on the court but let's not forget he was a Dad, a husband, a hero, and a human."
"My heart truly hurts because he's gone way too soon and it hurts because he is a family man. Rest in Peace Mamba. Forever my idol, and forever my hero. God bless," he concluded, signing off with "#8/24," the two numbers under which Bryant had spent his two-decade long NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Mayfield's words were echoed by his followers in the comments section, many of whom also took a moment to pay tribute to Bryant and the other victims of the crash.
"If anyone has that mamba mentality it's you baker," wrote one. "RIP Kobe. Forever a goat."
"Well said Baker," added another. "He was and is an inspiration to so many people, sports world and beyond."
"Taken way too soon," commented a third. "But remember the saying, 'heroes are remembered, but legends never die'. RIP Kobe."
Bryant and Gianna had been en route to a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy when their helicopter, flown by pilot Ara Zobayan, encountered dense of and crashed into a hillside, killing all nine people on board, including two of Gianna's teammates.