Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant, 41, was killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., that killed eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, according to L.A. county officials and media reports.
According to TMZ, Bryant and his second-born, 13-year-old daughter Gianna were traveling to a basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks. The identity of the other passengers was not immediately known, but the L.A. Sheriff’s Department called reports of the victims “wholly inappropriate” until the investigation is complete and next of kin are notified.
TMZ reported that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, was not on board the helicopter; the couple has three other daughters: Natalia, 17, and Bianca, 3, and 7-month-old Capri.
At a press conference Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officials said nine people were killed in the crash, revised from initial reports of five deaths.
The Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed in the foggy hills west of the San Fernando Valley at about 10 a.m. PT, officials said, causing a wildfire that was contained to the Calabasas crash site, which was not near any homes or major roadways. The crash site is still being preserved for federal investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Kobe Bryant with daughter Gianna in 2018 (Getty Images)
Bryant was known for using helicopters to travel throughout Los Angeles during his 20-year career with the Lakers, during which he won five NBA championships. Drafted out of high school by the Lakers in 1996, Bryant embarked on a career that saw him become an 18-time All-Star, the 2007-08 league MVP, and score 33,643 points.
His death comes less than 24 hours after fellow NBA star and Lakers forward LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA scorers list. James wore custom shoes with Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24, during Saturday’s game to honor him.
Both of Bryant’s jersey numbers were retired by the Lakers in 2017, two months before he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short alongside famed Disney animator Glen Keane. The short, titled “Dear Basketball,” depicted moments from Bryant’s childhood and career as he narrated his Players Tribune column announcing his retirement from basketball in 2016.
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