Past, current Sooners mourn loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) wears a No. 8 jersey honoring former NBA player Kobe Bryant prior to an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Atlanta. Bryant died in a California helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Trae Young walked off State Farm Arena’s court in Atlanta and found his mother, Candice, sitting nearby along the floor's baseline.

The mother and son hugged for nearly a minute ahead of the Atlanta Hawks’ game against the Washington Wizards. The emotional embrace, recorded and tweeted by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, followed the shocking news that Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Those who idolized and respected Bryant, the former Los Angeles Laker guard and five-time NBA champion, flooded social media with posts mourning the death of him and his daughter.

“All the Lessons. All the Advice,” wrote Young in a tweet posted at 2 p.m. Sunday. “Every word you ever told me... Will stick with me forever.”

Young, the former Oklahoma and Norman North guard, shared photos of himself with Kobe and Gianna Bryant to his Twitter account. Young says Gianna told him he was her favorite player to watch.

He then honored Bryant by starting the Hawks’ game with a different jersey number. Young wore No. 8, the same number Bryant wore during his Lakers career before switching to No. 24, for the first 33 seconds of the first quarter. The ex-OU star replaced the No. 8 jersey with his usual No. 11 for the rest of the contest.

The NBA's other Sooners shared heartfelt messages as well.

Former OU and current Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, who started his NBA career immediately after Bryant’s final season in 2016, expressed his grief online.

"This s**t hit different right now…,” Hield posted to his Twitter account.

“Very few people actually transcend the word ‘iconic’ and you are one of them. You will be missed, “ wrote ex-Sooner and current Detroit Piston forward Blake Griffin, whose NBA career intersected with Bryant’s for six seasons, in a caption posted to his Instagram.

De'Vion Harmon, one of OU's current starting guards, expressed his appreciation for Bryant in an Instagram post as well.

"I'm crying REAL tears right now,” Harmon wrote. “... I TRULY admired your work ethic and the way you approached not just basketball, but life as we all know it. Mamba Mentality is the way I live and the way I will continue to live with even more, better focus and detail."

Former OU and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said in a note posted to his Instagram account, "Today is one of the saddest in my life. 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 and what I still hope to accomplish.”

OU athletics director Joe Castiglione wrote in a tweet, “Absolutely terrible and stunning news. A true superstar that used his platform to connect sports, life with a perspective of prioritizing/pursuing true happiness. RIP Kobe.”

And OU's official men's basketball Twitter account released the following tweet late Sunday, "A legend on the court. A global ambassador for our sport. An icon of our generation. From all of us in the Oklahoma Basketball Family — Thank You, Kobe."

Joe Buettner

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Follow me @ByJoeBuettner

jbuettner@normantranscript.com

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