An emotional Nick Kyrgios paid tribute to Kobe Bryant by wearing the NBA legend's LA Lakers jersey as he walked out for his last 16 Australian Open clash against World No.1 Rafael Nadal. Wearing Bryant's number 8 Lakers jersey, Kyrgios was seen walking in front of Rafael Nadal down the 'Walk of Champions' at Melbourne Park. As he entered the Rod Laver Arena, Kyrgios was in tears and later was even seen warming up wearing Bryant's Lakers jersey. NBA legend Kobe Bryant died on Sunday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed and burst into flames in thick fog, killing all nine people on board.
Bryant, 41, was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers and crew when their Sikorsky S-76 helicopter slammed into a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.
Kyrgios was visibly upset by Kobe Bryant's tragic death and honoured the basketball by donning his old number 8 jersey, which the American star had worn in the first half of his career before switching to the famed number 24 ahead of the 2006-2007 season.
Nick Kyrgios walked out in Kobe's jersey and is wearing it while warming up pic.twitter.com/7SkSzFoKSi— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 27, 2020
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in history, an iconic figure who became one of the faces of his sport during a glittering two-decade career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dozens of firefighters and paramedics battled across steep terrain to reach the flaming wreckage at the crash site but found no survivors, officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said an 18-strong team of investigators would be sent to California to probe the causes of the crash.
Bryant's death sent shockwaves throughout the world, with basketball stars stunned by the news.
(With AFP inputs)