The mayor of Los Angeles, where Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, also mourned the player's death.
Los Angeles county sheriff says five people have been confirmed dead as a result of the crash, which is now under investigation. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time National Basketball Association scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA's All-Defensive teams.
James had told NBA.com after the game: "I'm just happy to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats to ever play". Bryant scored 33,643 points in his career, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone when he retired in 2016.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant dies at 41 according to reports
TMZ reports Bryant has used a helicopter to travel for years, dating back to when he played for the Lakers. Fellow Laker LeBron James would pass Bryant on the scoring list just days before his death.
Bryant was known to use a helicopter from his home to games in Los Angeles to avoid the city's notoriously bad traffic.
Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa and his four kids, Natalia Diamante Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, Bianka Bella Bryant, Capri Kobe Bryant.
President Barack Obama also tweeted out his condolences to the Bryant family. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for his contributions to "Dear Basketball", an animated short about his relationship to the game. He was 41 years old.
Bryant's impact on sports is impossible to understate - several generations of fans grew up trying to emulate his "Mamba mentality" style of play, including Saints players like wide receiver Michael Thomas. There were reportedly three other people traveling with Bryant.
He won Olympic gold medals for the United States in 2008 and 2012 and among the candidates this year for induction into the Naismith Baskeball Hall of Fame.