Monday, 27 January 2020 00:46

Kobe Bryant: Getty Images.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL said "no words could express his pain" after former LA Lakers team-mate Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, aged 41.

Bryant, and his oldest daughter Gianna, were travelling with at least three others in a private aircraft when it came down in Calabasas near LA, California.

While the NBA said in a statement: "We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant. Words cannot express his impact on our players, the NBA, and the game of basketball.

"This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken.

"We send our love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family."

His partnership with O'Neal at the most well-known basketball team on the planet saw him become a household name first across America, then the world.

He even won an Oscar for best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015.