Four other people were killed when the chopper went down.
The National Basketball Players Association says it is stunned and devastated by the news of Bryant’s death.
“Words cannot express his impact on our players, the NBA and the game of basketball,” it tweeted.
“This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken.”
Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tweeted: “Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete.”
Six-time NFL Super Bowl champion Tom Brady was among the first to react on Twitter: “We miss you already Kobe”, while retired NBA star Dwyane Wade wrote: “Nooooooooooo God please No!”.
Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid tweeted: “Man I don’t even know where to start???? I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND.”
Fellow NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird said Bryant was not only an icon in the sports arena but a man of the world who touched lives in many ways.
“His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others – his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in everything he accomplished,” Bird said in a statement.
Three time tennis Grand Slam winner Andy Murray said on Instagram: “This has hit me hard. Thinking of all his family, friends and colleagues.”
Former England soccer great Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: “Oh no. How awful. One of the greatest sportsmen of our lifetime. Utterly tragic”, while current England forward Raheem Sterling wrote: “Rest easy Legend”.
Bryant’s own last tweet was praising LeBron James, who had just surpassed him on the NBA’s all-time points scoring list. James is now the third behind Kareem Abdul Jabar and Karl Malone.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644,” he tweeted on Saturday.
The Orlando Magic will observe a moment of silence in memory of Bryant when they face Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night.
At the Staples Centre in LA, the home venue of the Lakers, people were already leaving tributes in memory of Bryant at lunch time on Sunday.
Forget the drab atmosphere of last season’s fanless NBA games, we could have starless ones in the next. Expect a disappointing start to the regular season if wounded All-Stars, players suffering from a bubble hangover, and LeBron James all take extended leave.
In the last few days rumours have linked Derrick Rose with a potential move to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bearing that in mind, how could the Lakers, the Pistons and Derrick Rose benefit from a potential trade involving the 32-year-old veteran?