Heartbroken David Beckham pays emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant

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David Beckham has penned an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant after the former NBA basketball star was killed in a tragic helicopter crash.

Bryant was one of nine people on board the helicopter which went down in Calabasas. California, around 9:45am Sunday morning.

The 41-year-old and his daughter Gianna, 13, were both confirmed dead, along with the seven others also involved.

Tributes have poured in for the five-time NBA championships winner, with Beckham the latest to pay homage to his friend.

“It’s taken me hours to work out what to write and still my words won’t ever be enough to describe how I am feeling after the tragic loss of Kobe,” Beckham said on Instagram.

Beckham and Bryant became friends after the footballer moved to LA
Beckham and Bryant became friends after the footballer moved to LA
(Image: Getty Images)

“This was one special athlete, husband, father and friend. Having to write these words is hard enough but also knowing we have lost an amazing human being and his beautiful and talented daughter Gianna is heartbreaking.

“The commitment Kobe showed to his sport was inspiring, to go through the pain and to finish a game off like only he could inspired me to try to be better.

“Sometimes I would only go to games just to watch that clock go down to the last 2:00 minutes knowing that we were about to witness something special.

“Kobe always talked about Vanessa and his beautiful girls and how proud he was of them. Kobe’s passion was his family and basketball.

“He was determined to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to embrace the sport that he loved. His legacy will live on.

“My family’s love and prayers go out to Vanessa and the girls, to Kobe’s basketball family, and of course to the families of those who were tragically lost with him yesterday…”

Beckham and Bryant struck up a friendship when the former England captain moved to the States to play for Los Angeles Galaxy.

Bryant was already a huge star in the city, having played for the LA Lakers since 1996, up until his retirement from the game in 2016.

The pair pose together in Shenzhen, China in 2016
The pair pose together in Shenzhen, China in 2016
(Image: Visual China Group via Getty Images)

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Kobe Bryant dies aged 41

TV show Good Morning America gave Beckham a Bryant jersey when he completed his move to the Galaxy, and the star was a regualr courtside at the Staples Center to watch Bryant in action.

A memorial has since been set up at Bryant’s former stomping ground as thousands flocked to pay their respects.

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and newborn Capri.

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