LeBron James 'heartbroken, devastated' but vows to continue Kobe Bryant legacy

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, died on Sunday in a helicopter crash in California

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NBA superstar LeBron James said Kobe Bryant's death left him "heartbroken and devastated" but vowed to continue Bryant's championship legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, died on Sunday in a helicopter crash in California along with his teenage daughter and seven others.

The tragedy happened only hours after Lakers star James overtook him for third on the league's all-time scoring list.

"I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother," James posted on Instagram. "Man I love you big bro.

"I promise you I'll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation ... Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here!"

James said his heart went out to Bryant's widow, Vanessa, and Kobe's surviving daughters.

"There's so much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it!" James wrote. "Until we meet again my brother!!"

The NBA postponed Tuesday's scheduled Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the wake of Bryant's death. The Lakers' next scheduled game is at home Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers have won 16 NBA titles, one shy of the Boston Celtics' all-time record. Bryant won five titles in seven NBA Finals appearances (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010).

But the Lakers have suffered six consecutive losing seasons since their last playoff appearance, including the final three campaigns of Bryant's career.

This season, the Lakers have the second-best record in the NBA at 36-10 to lead the Western Conference, with James averaging 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league-best 10.7 assists a game.

James reached the NBA Finals in eight consecutive years and nine times in his career until last year's, as the Lakers struggled in his first season with the club.

Bryant retired in 2016, the same year James fulfilled his life-long dream of winning an NBA title with his hometown club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, after having taken his first two crowns with the Miami Heat.

James led the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals the next two seasons, losing each time to Golden State, and in 2018 opted to leave Cleveland and join the Lakers.