Golf community pays tribute to basketball great Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Tiger Woods has led the tributes from the golf community for basketball icon Kobe Bryant who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

LA Lakers legend Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in the accident in the city of Calabasas, California.

Woods was informed of the news by his caddie, Joe LaCava, after completing the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. He and Bryant had been close friends for a number of years.

“Life is very fragile as we all know,” said the 15-time major winner. “You can be gone at any given time and we have to appreciate the moments that we have.  I just can't imagine what his family's going through right now.”

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Woods added that he couldn’t understand why fans had been cheering on the back nine for him to ‘Do it for Mamba’, Bryant’s nickname.

“He played both ends of the court,” added Tiger. “There are maybe two guys, three guys in the entire NBA history that you can say that about. He was up for that challenge. One of the more impressive things that I've ever witnessed is when he ruptured his Achilles and he went to the foul line, made his shots.  Ultimate toughness, ultimate competitor, and one of the most shocking, tragic days that I've ever been a part of in a very quick span here.”

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Woods was one of many tour pros to pay their respects to the five-time NBA champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP...

Rory McIlroy, meantime, described the news as "horrific".

"I grew up idolising him," said the world No.2. "The first basketball team I really followed were the Lakers. He and Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] played the Pacers I think it was 2000 Finals, that was sort of when I got into basketball. He was a pure master of what he did. It's just so sad."

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