Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career spent entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star’s death was first confirmed by TMZ.
The outlet reported that Bryant was traveling with four other people – including daughter ‘Gi-Gi’ – in his private helicopter when it crashed, killing everyone on board.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of the crash near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas at around 10am after a fire broke out.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. Witnesses reported hearing the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down near the home of Kourtney Kardashian.
Sources told TMZ the chopper was on its way to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that another player and parent were also on the helicopter.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters – Natalia, Bianca and Capri, who was born last summer.
News of the NBA legend’s death sent shockwaves in the sports world and beyond as dozens of celebrities paid tribute on social media.
Bryant was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
The Philadelphia native spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships and 18 All-Star titles before he retired in 2016.
He was the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons and was the first and only player in Lakers history to have both of his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – retired. He was also a two-time Olympic champion.
He also won an Oscar for best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015
Bryant has been known to use a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to travel for years – often flying from Newport Beach to the Staples Center for Lakers games.
Bryant’s death came one day after he was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The unseated star congratulated James on Twitter during the Lakers’ 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
James had written ‘Mamba 4 Life’ and ‘8/24 KB’ on his sneakers in gold ink before the game to show respect for Bryant.
Dozens of celebrities have taken to social media to express their shock over Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in a helicopter crash.
Khloe Kardashian tweeted: ‘This can’t be real, there’s no way!!! My heart hurts.’
In another tweet, she wrote: ‘Please don’t let this be True. I’m shaking.’
Tristan Thompson was quick to tweet that ‘I hope this isn’t true man!!’ upon hearing the news that the 41-year-old was one of five people killed in the crash.