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IOC president: Kobe Bryant a 'true Olympic champion'

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Wilbon on Kobe's death: It's unthinkable (2:16)

Michael Wilbon reacts to the news of Kobe Bryant losing his life in a helicopter crash. (2:16)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Kobe Bryant was "an outstanding and true Olympic champion," IOC president Thomas Bach said Monday.

Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday, helped the United States win Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games.

The basketball great also worked with the Olympic hosting bid for Los Angeles, the city where he won five NBA titles with the Lakers. When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympics, men's basketball will take place at Staples Center, where Bryant played with the Lakers.

"He embraced the power of sport to change people's lives," Bach said in a statement published by the International Olympic Committee. "After retiring from the game he loved so much, he continued to support the Olympic Movement and was an inspiration for the Olympic Games LA 2028."

Bryant narrated the final filmed segment of the L.A. bid team's presentation in July 2017. He was a member of the bid's board of directors.

"There are so many different cultures represented here, so many different ethnicities represented here," he said of Los Angeles in the video. "It's an opportunity to learn, no matter where you look."

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in the crash in Calabasas in foggy weather conditions Sunday morning.

"We will all miss his energy and his humble nature," Bach said. "Our thoughts are with his family and friends and all the other victims."

Andreas Zagklis, the International Basketball Federation secretary general, described Bryant as a "sun in the basketball universe, shining on and off the court."