Basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a California helicopter crash on Sunday along with at least one of his daughters and seven others, reports and officials said.
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A fire broke out sending his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter spiralling out of an overcast sky above Calabasas and killing all five on board. It has been widely reported that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore is among the dead.
During a brief initial press conference on Sunday evening, authorities said that there were nine killed in the crash. Police received a call at 9:47 a.m. that a helicopter may have crashed, officials said.
The Bryants were on their way to Mamba Academy for basketball practice, reports say.
Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman, said his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating. Sikorsky says it is cooperating with authorities to find out the cause of the crash.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, sevens months.
The L.A. Lakers star is considered one of greatest basketball players of all time. He spent his entire 20-year National Basketball Association career with the California team.
Bryant, 41, won five championships and was an 18-time all-star. He is known for scoring 81 points in a single game.
The basketball great’s final tweet was sent out on Saturday evening, congratulating LeBron James for taking his position as third on the ladder in overall career points.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 but began a new career in Hollywood. In 2018, he won an Oscar along with director Glen Keane for the animated short film “Dear Basketball”, the L.A. Times reports.
IGNITE Vice President Ryan Stafford, who represents Lakeshore Campus, posted a tribute to the basketball legend on his Instagram Story.
The following obituary was posted by Reuters news agency:
“A transcendent star who went straight from high school to the game’s biggest stage, Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers and was the face of the franchise during his 20-year career.”
“Bryant, a small forward and shooting guard, averaged 25 points during his career and twice led the NBA in scoring.”
“He was an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the jersey numbers 24 and 8 – both of which were retired by the Lakers – and continued the ‘Showtime’ tradition of the storied franchise that has been home to the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.”
U.S. President Donald Trump called the development “terrible news”. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Bryant “will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”
An NBA game taking place at the time the news broke took a moment of silence and soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. made a “24” symbol with his fingers after scoring a goal on Sunday.