NBA legend Kobe Bryant died earlier today in a helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles, US media reports said. The police confirmed that the accident left five people dead. One of these five people was his 13-year-old daughter, Gianni ‘Gigi’ Bryant.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said there were no survivors from the morning crash in foggy conditions on a hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. They described the helicopter as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
TMZ was the first US outlet to report that Bryant was among the fatalities. The NBA icon’s death was later confirmed by ESPN, CNN and the Los Angeles Times citing unidentified sources.
ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted,
“Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.”
TMZ reported that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa was not among those on board the helicopter.
Early reports of Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, with fellow stars and celebrities expressing disbelief at the news. “This can’t be true,” Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic wrote on Twitter. “No please.”
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The crash came only hours after current Lakers star LeBron James passed the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers icon for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia.
Bryant’s final post on social media had been a tweet congratulating James on surpassing him. He wrote, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644”.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of a high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016. He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London.
Kobe Bryant leaves behind his wife Vanessa, 37, and their three other daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
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