Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA players of all-time and a superstar who transcended sports, was killed in a fiery helicopter crash in California on Sunday. He was 41.
According to multiple reports, Bryant was on a helicopter flying over Calabasas – a city of 23,000 people located about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. TMZ Sports first reported that Bryant was killed in the crash. FOX Sports also confirmed the report of Bryant’s death.
According to TMZ Sports and The New York Times, Bryant’s daughter Gianna was also killed in the crash. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also confirmed the death of Bryant and his daughter in a statement.
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” Silver said.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.
But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.
We are heartbroken and shocked to learn that our former head coach, John Altobelli along with his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa passed away this morning in the helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
— Brewster Whitecaps (@WhitecapsCCBL) January 26, 2020
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”
The Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League’s Brewster Whitecaps tweeted that their coach John Altobelli, his wife and daughter were among those killed.
The City of Calabasas also tweeted on Bryant’s death.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” the tweet read. “The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
The Federal Aviation Administration told Fox News the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under “unknown circumstances.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said in a Sunday afternoon press conference there were nine people listed on the helicopter’s manifest and all were believed to be dead. Police did not confirm any of the identities of the victims.
Art Marrujo, a dispatch supervisor with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told the Associated Press that firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through about an acre of dry brush.
Around the time of the crash, L.A. Times reporter Richard Winton reported that the mountains were “fogged in.”
“I heard the plane splutter and then a boom,” he tweeted.
Dozens of fans wearing Bryant jerseys began lining up near where police had closed off the road leading to the crash as they anxiously await for information from authorities about what happened.
Bryant was selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac before the start of the 1996-97 season. It proved to be one of the most important trades in NBA history.
Bryant would help lead the Lakers to five NBA championships and was a part of one of the best NBA dynasties alongside Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and O’Neal won three straight NBA titles from 1999 to 2002. He then won two rings with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.
It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
— City of Calabasas (@CityofCalabasas) January 26, 2020
“The Black Mamba” wrapped up his playing career in 2016. He played his final game against the Utah Jazz and finished with an epic performance – 60 points, four rebounds and four assists.
He finished his career as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, two time NBA Finals MVP and the 2008 NBA MVP.