Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant

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As the world of sport mourns the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, six-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to the NBA icon and former Lakers player.

Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California. Seven other people were also among the victims of the tragedy which left no survivors.

Bryant and the group of people were on their way to the former player's Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks where Gianna Maria was scheduled to practice when the crash occurred.

The circumstances of the tragedy currently remain unclear but initial reports and local accounts indicate that the fog lingering in the Los Angeles area likely played a fatal role in the accident.

While hundreds of mourning fans gathered in Calabasas and outside of the Staples Center, the home arena of the Lakers, the world of sport took to social media with a heavy heart to pay tribute to the 41-year-old legend who had spent the entirety of his stellar career in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

"Iโ€™m sad to hear that we lost one of our greats," Hamilton tweeted, along with a picture of Bryant and his daughter.

"@kobebryant was one of the greatest athletes and was such an inspiration to so many including myself.

"Iโ€™m deeply saddened for his family and for the people around the world who looked up to him. May he and his daughter rest in peace."

Motorsport legend and 1978 F1 world champion Mario Andretti also expressed his sadness over Kobe Bryant's passing, as did past and present McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz.

"There are no words to express the sorrow I feel at the tragic loss of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and the other passengers who started their day with them this morning," Andretti tweeted.

"I offer my deepest condolences to Vanessa and each of the other families on this tremendous loss."

Former US President Barack Obama, a renowned basketball fan, was among the first to tweet his heartfelt feelings.

"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," wrote Obama.

"To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

Many of Bryant's former teammates and opponents paid tributes of their own to the exemplary NBA figure, including fellow Lakers greats Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal

Kobe Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

Rest in peace 'Mamba'.