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"The reason I started to play this game" | St. Louis NBA players grieve death of Kobe Bryant

Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum expressed grief online after learning about the death of Kobe Bryant

ST. LOUIS — Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were two of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California Sunday, according to reports. Bryant was 41 years old.

RELATED: Kobe Bryant killed after helicopter crash leaves no survivors in Southern California

St. Louis natives who play in the NBA are among the many sports figures and celebrities sharing their grief online.

In the early moments of hearing the news, Jayson Tatum wrote, “Nooooooo cmon someone say it ain’t true... I’m sick to my stomach right now.”

Later in the day, Tatum posted to Instagram calling Bryant "the reason I started to play this game, the reason I fell in love with this game."

Tatum is a star player on the Boston Celtics who’s from St. Louis. His alma mater is Chaminade.

Fellow Chaminade grad Bradley Beal also reacted to the shocking news on Twitter, writing, “God, we ALL need you!”

Beal plays with the Washington Wizards in D.C. He played against Bryant before the Lakers star retired in 2016. 

In a postgame press conference, St. Louis University Head Basketball Coach Travis Ford was emotional talking about the NBA legend. Ford said he learned of Bryant's death a minute before his team's game Sunday.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina shared a photo on Instagram that said "RIP Kobe," along with crying and prayer sign emojis.

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RELATED: Celebrities, athletes and politicians react to the death of Kobe Bryant