Kobe Bryant: Basketball legend dies, daughter in helicopter crash

Author: Maurice Quansah
Kobe and his daughter Gianna perished in the crash

Kobe Bryant 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 travelling with four other people -- including daughter 'Gi-Gi' -- in his private Sikorsky S-76 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 and a group of mountain bikers spotted the smoke.

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.

A flight plan indicated the helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9.06am and the last signal was received from the aircraft at 9.45am.

Sources told TMZ Bryant was headed to his 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.

 

Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna

Bryant won five NBA championships with the Lakers

Byrant is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players ever

Bryant was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

The Philadelphia native was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft and spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP titles and 18 All-Star titles before retiring in 2016.

Bryant was on 15 All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams and represented the USA at the Olympics in 2008 and 2008.

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 is currently ranked fourth for all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring.

Bryant had been known to use his 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.