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Coach K, former and current Duke men's basketball players react to Kobe Bryant's sudden death

<p>Bryant attended Duke's Sweet 16 matchup against Oregon in 2016.</p>

Bryant attended Duke's Sweet 16 matchup against Oregon in 2016.

Kobe Bryant and four others died in a helicopter crash in California Sunday, as first reported by TMZ

One of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, Bryant was just 41 years old.

“We have tragically lost one of the greatest sports figures of our time with the passing of Kobe Bryant," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement provided by the team Sunday afternoon. "He was an incredibly gifted person who was universally respected. He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport. I had the amazing honor of coaching Kobe in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and I will always remember how much he cherished representing his country in a first-class manner playing the game he so loved.

"The game of basketball is better today because of Kobe, and he deserves eternal appreciation for that. This is a devastating loss, made even more tragic by the passing of his daughter, Gianna, and all others on board. The entire Krzyzewski family is saddened as we genuinely loved and admired Kobe. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Vanessa, their daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and the families of those involved.”

Over the past two decades, Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players. After the shocking news broke, many current and former Duke men's basketball players posted on social media expressing their support and emotion for an icon who had such a large impact on their careers.