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Source: VINCE BUCCI / Getty

It wasn’t a dream. We really did lose Kobe Bryant way too soon, and the legion of NBA players he influenced have been offering their condolences, praise and homages to their competitor and mentor every since of the Black Mamba’s tragic passing.

Kobe Bean Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were two of the nine people who died when a helicopter they were traveling crashed near Calabasas, Calif. yesterday (Jan. 26) morning.

As soon as it was confirmed that the NBA legend had indeed passed away, his peers started paying tribute to the otherworldly competitor. One of the more notable and moving homages came from Shaquille O’Neal, who though at times they didn’t see eye to eye during their playing days, settled their differences and became brothers.

“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,” wrote Shaq initially.

An hour later he added, “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. 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.”

See more tributes from around the past, present and future of the NBA, and WNBA, in the gallery. Rest in powerful peace Kobe Bryant.

 

1. Allen Iverson with a personal story…

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