Batman star and Lakers stalwart Jack Nicholson is among those mourning star NBA player Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash Sunday at the age of 41. Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash, according to TMZ, who broke the news. Officials later reported nine people were on board and there were no survivors, per TMZ. Calling the crash a "terrible event," Nicholson remembers his first encounter with the superstar at Madison Square Garden, which paid tribute to Bryant during a meeting between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.
"My reaction is the same as almost all of LA.," Nicholson told CBSLA when reached for comment. "Where we think everything's solid, there's a big hole in the wall. I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe that… it kills you. It's just a terrible event."
Recalling his first time meeting Bryant, Nicholson admitted he "teased" the player.
"It was at the Garden in New York and I offered him a basketball and asked him if he wanted me to autograph it for him. He looked at me like I was crazy," Nicholson said. "I sat right behind his jump shot on the left hand side. I can see him going up and I can tell the first instant if it's going in."
CBSLA reported Nicholson sounded "heartbroken" over Bryant's death.
"I remember the totality of how great a player he was… We'll think of him all the time and we'll miss him," he said.
In a statement, the National Basketball Players Association said it was "stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant."
"Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken," the statement read. "We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family."
Bryant was also remembered by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Bryant in 2018 was awarded an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for "Dear Basketball," an animated telling of Bryant's poem of the same name.
"They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar," reads a post from the Academy published on Instagram. "Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace."
Photo credit: AFP / FREDERIC J. BROWN (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)