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Shaquille O’Neal has taken to Twitter to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, his Los Angeles Lakers teammate from 1996-2004.

O’Neal wrote, “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryantI love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW.”

Shaq added in a second tweet, “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. this morning (January 26) at around 10 AM. Three other passengers on the helicopter have also died. Their identities have yet to be confirmed.

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock news blogger who's well versed in etiquette and extraordinarily nice.