Christian Leaders Mourn Kobe Bryant's Death, Reflect on His Faith

Kobe Bryant (Instagram/@cristinaballestero)

Bryant; his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; and seven others died Sunday morning, Jan. 26, when Bryant's helicopter crashed while on their way to Gianna's basketball game. There were no survivors, reports say.

Bryant, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, was considered an NBA legend.

In 2003, he was accused of rape, but the case was dropped on Sept. 1, 2004, when the accuser decided not to testify. While Bryant admitted to committing adultery, he denied sexually assaulting the accuser.

Bryant was also reportedly a devout Catholic. At his lowest point, sources say, he turned to God, saying that talking to a priest was "the one thing that really helped me during that process."

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Bryant's wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce in 2011, but with the help of counseling from a priest, the couple stayed together and remained married until Bryant's death. The couple had four children together.

Singer Cristina Ballestero shared on Instagram about an encounter she had with Bryant during Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, California.

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I wanna tell a story about the time I met Kobe Bryant. I was sitting in the very back of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, CA, on a WEEKDAY mass. At the time I was very into wearing veils and on this particular day I had a scarf I used as veil. Right as mass begins I see a huge shadow in my right peripheral vision and hear a decently loud creak from probably a big man. I double took to see... it was KOBE BRYANT IN THE SAME PEW AS ME ON THE OTHER END! I just went about my normal praying and singing as usual cause he like all of us came to pray. Thank God I had the veil so I could stay focused on Jesus not this insanely talented Basketball player my whole family has looked up to and watched our whole lives. As we went up to communion, he waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women. He said I have a beautiful voice. I said thank you and went up to communion. @marydallal @mandymissyturkey and a couple other friends saw him standing behind me going to receive Jesus. And we talked about it after mass and freaked out together. It was such a cool experience to receive Jesus right before him, and also, to walk up to receive Jesus together. It was also cool to see him come for a weekday mass. He said in his GQ interview how a Catholic Priest helped him through the tough time he went through in the media. He also talks about how his faith is important. His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God's mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision. Him and his wife do so much great work with their foundation. I'm heartbroken at the news of his death, alongside his daughter Gianna. My prayers go out to his Family, friends and loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto him, and her oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they Rest In Peace, Amen. We love you Kobe & Gianna. . . . . #kobebryant

A post shared by Cristina Ballestero (@cristinaballestero) on

Louie Giglio was among one of the many Christian leaders and influencers who mourned the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Many of the believers who shared their condolences encouraged mourners to look to Jesus and take the opportunity to reflect on the gospel.

"Grateful to be in church today," he wrote on Instagram. "Such a devastating day across the world with the news of those lost in Kobe's helicopter crash. Heartbroken and praying. On days like today we all need God's grace and the message of the resurrection life that is Jesus."

Apologist Ravi Zacharias said:

Here in the Philippines, we are just waking up to sad and shocking news of the death of one of basketball's greatest players, Kobe Bryant. Along with his daughter, Gianna, and others on board, he went down to an early grave just as this new year has dawned. Our hearts ache to think of them, especially in their final moments.

Ironically, I am minutes away from speaking at the Philippines Prayer Breakfast on National Bible Day here in Manila, hosted by their boxing great and basketball fan, Manny Pacquiao. The theme for my talk is "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word of God abides forever." Such sudden losses bring all of us into the sobering reality of an appointment we will all have to keep and the vaporous span of life. At the same time, how significant a gift life is.

Our prayers and thoughts for the family are uppermost. Grief limits words but not reality. May God give us all the knowledge to so number our days that we might incline our hearts to His will. May the Everlasting Word bring comfort to them. God, hear our prayers. #KobeBryant

Bobbie Houston, co-founder of Hillsong Church, wrote:

"So very sad ....... Life is so precious, fleeting and unpredictable. I have no connection to this world or these families, yet with many others, I feel deep sympathy for all their families. May 'the peace that passes understanding' overshadow and grace them all. #kobebryant (Phil 4:7 NIV) 'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'"

Author and Pastor Choco de Jesus wrote:

We lose people every day but there is something about a loss of this magnitude, and in this way, that causes us to pause. We are abruptly reminded of the fragility of life.⁣

Kobe Bryant was an incredibly gifted basketball player. But he was first a husband, father, son, friend, etc. And I speak with almost complete certainty in saying that no one thought the last time they saw him would be the last time.⁣

Today the world mourns his loss, we pray for his wife and daughters. Hug your loved ones, forgive and live a full life - today. Tomorrow, even the next minute, is not known or promised.

Prophet Shawn Bolz said:

"Pray with me for Kobe Bryant'a family as they just lost this legend and his daughter Gigi. Its so sad that he passed in a helicopter crash today. Rest In Peace. #kobe #kobebryant"

John Lindell, lead pastor of James River Church, posted:

"Saddened to hear about Kobe Bryant and those traveling with him. Praying for God's comfort and presence to touch the hearts of all those affected by this tragedy."

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