Brands Mourn Kobe Bryant’s Shocking Passing on Social Media

Companies, organizations and celebrities grieved the 5-time NBA champion online

Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he suddenly died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he suddenly died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. Getty Images

After a helicopter carrying nine people crashed on a remote hillside in Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday morning, brands paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant.

The horrific and untimely death of Kobe and Gianna (known as a particularly close father-daughter duo due to their shared love of basketball), along with seven other victims (Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester and Are Zobayan), sent shockwaves throughout the world.

Bryant worked with a long roster of brands including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Nike and Adidas. He also co-wrote a campaign for the sports drink BodyArmor. Collaborators looked back at the legend:

Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co., the oldest sporting goods company in Philadelphia, tweeted a photo of the Philadelphia native in a Sixers jersey:

Friend and fellow basketball star Dwyane Wade recorded his emotional reaction of disbelief on Instagram:

Popular landmarks like Los Angeles City Hall, Times Square and the Target Center in Minneapolis were lit in memory of the Lakers legend with his team colors. Other locations put banners and photos of the five-time NBA champion on display. Fans also took to the stage, the streets and schoolyard to grieve Bryant.

Alicia Keys, tapped to host the 62nd annual Grammy Awards—which took place at the Staples Center on Sunday night—sang a stirring tribute to Bryant in his home court with Boyz II Men (who also happen to be Philly icons), while Lizzo dedicated her powerful performance of “Cuz I Love You” to the All-Star. Two jerseys, No. 8 and No. 24, Bryant’s numbers throughout his prolific 20-year career with the Lakers, were illuminated that night.

Fans left flowers, jerseys and other memorabilia in honor of their fallen hero at the Staples Center and at Bryant’s alma mater, Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa.

Other brands—companies, organizations and personalities—flocked to Twitter and other social media platforms to express remorse and to pay tribute to Bryant.

Political figures such as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama all posted or stated their sentiments about Bryant.

Brands that had no particular professional allegiance to Kobe Bryant still took the time to sympathize with their audiences or comment on the situation via Twitter. These include Merriam-Webster, Pornhub and Got Instrumentals.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reminded followers that grief and mental health distress after traumatic events are normal, and tweeted out a list of self-care tips on what became #MambaMonday.

Media outlets such as The New York Times and The Outline, as well as news writers from SB Nation, did not shy away from reckoning with the death of the All-Star while also grappling with Bryant’s sexual assault scandal.

In response to the news, Planters paused its #RIPeanut campaign, which showed the dramatic demise of the brand’s iconic mascot after a Peanutmobile accident, in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

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@monicroqueta Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.