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‘Seeing him play gave us a feeling that can never be replicated’: Patriots players react to the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant

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Bryant was one of nine people to die in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday, while the NFL Pro Bowl was underway, news broke that NBA legend Kobe Bryant was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California — one that also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna as well as college coach John Altobelli and his wife and daughter. The tragedy resonated far beyond basketball circles, with athletes, celebrities and others paying their respects to Bryant and the families impacted.

Present and former members of the New England Patriots also shared their reactions on social media, with the organization itself using just a single word to describe the feelings following the accident: heartbroken.

Players, meanwhile, shared their personal feelings about the tragedy and memories of Bryant.

Benjamin Watson, meanwhile, took to Facebook to share his thoughts:

There is nothing more common to the human experience than death. It touches everyone and everything on this planet. It is a part of life yet it is a fear evoking, painful mystery that we rarely get accustomed to. For many of us it looms in the distance, quarantined in the dark corners of the mind until suddenly our own mortality grabs us unexpectedly and stares us squarely in the face. Over 150,000 people die daily, largely unnoticed, but when icons expire unexpectedly it shakes our souls. If someone in good health, adored by millions across the globe, who had reached the pinnacle of earthly success, could not extend his days what hope do any of us have in this journey called life?!

The tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others reminds me of my own mortality. And it’s scary. I do not fear what happens after physical life but on days like today I do fear the uncertainty of the process and the circumstances surrounding it. Days like today remind me that life is a vapor. We are here today and gone tomorrow yet sometimes we live as if tomorrow is promised, so engulfed with the worries, desires, and frivolous pursuits of life that we lose sight of the missions, callings and divine purposes of our existence. True age is not calculated by years on the planet. In actuality, we are as old or young as our expiration date. Days like today remind us that unlike many other things in life, no one knows the day or hour of his last breath.

We all have an appointment with death that we can not cancel. It is appointed for man to die once and then the judgement. As final as it seems from this side of the chasm, physical death is not the end but a continuation of life; a transition from the mortal into the eternal. We will all live forever either in the glorious presence of our Creator and King or in eternal separation from Him. As the sand trickles through the hour glass, the most pressing question of life is not quantified by materials acquired, relationships cultivated, or goodness imparted. Our justification before a holy God, our life eternal, can only be acquired through repentance and faith in the shed blood of His Son; a free gift of salvation for all who believe.

Days like today call for raw emotional response and loving embraces, prayer and solemn reflection. They feel surreal until tomorrow’s morning concretizes their reality. May the Lord bring comfort to the friends family and loved ones of the Bryant’s, Altobelli’s and other victims in this time of tremendous grief.

This one hurts us all.