Kobe Bryant Dead: Michael Jordan Issues Statement of 'Shock' Over Lakers Star's Death

Former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan is in "shock" after the news of Kobe Bryant's death. The Los Angeles Lakers legend died on Sunday in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Officials said they were two of eight passengers who died in the accident in Calabasas, California.

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing," Jordan said in a statement released by his spokeswoman. "Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved Kobe - he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much."

"He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force," Jordan continued. "Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply - and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world."

Jordan is just one of many NBA legends mourning Bryant's death.

"Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players," Kareem Abdul-Jabar tweeted. "But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete."

"There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my [niece] Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed," Shaquille O'Neal, who won three NBA championships with Bryant, tweeted. "My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW."

O'Neal later posted a second message on just how important Bryant is to him and his family.

"Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man," O'Neal wrote. "That was what we had most in common. 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."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirmed Bryant and his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, were among the deceased in the crash. Six others are unidentified, although friends revealed on Twitter that Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli was one of the victims.

"There has been wide speculation about [what] the identities [of the other victims] are, however it would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name, until the coroner has made the identifications... and made notifications to the next of kin," Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a press conference.


Photo credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images