David Beckham heartbroken over loss of pal Kobe Bryant

David Beckham

David Beckham has opened up about the pain he feels over the loss of his friend and fellow sports star Kobe Bryant.

Kobe, 41, and his daughter, Gianna, 13, were travelling to one of her basketball games in his private helicopter when it crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning. Seven other people lost their lives.

The soccer legend, who got to know the basketball star while he was playing soccer for Los Angeles Galaxy and Kobe was the face of the city's Lakers franchise, initially stayed silent after the tragedy, but revealed how his pal's death had affected him on Instagram on Monday.

"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," David, who attended Kobe's final game with his son Brooklyn in 2016, wrote.

"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 British sporting hero went on to praise his pal's commitment to his own sport and his pride in his four daughters, whose ages range from 17 years to seven months old.

"Kobe's passion was his family and basketball," David added. "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..."

A host of sporting superstars have joined the basketball world in mourning the NBA legend, with Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mike Tyson, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Naomi Osaka, and Lewis Hamilton among those paying tribute.

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