Kobe Bryant, the basketball star who spent the entirety of his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, has died at the age of 41. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, nine people were killed, including the pilot, when Bryant’s helicopter crashed on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, just northwest of Los Angeles.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, was also killed in the crash. ESPN reports that Bryant and Gianna were on their way to a travel basketball game, and that another player and parent were also on board. According to TMZ, one of the passengers was John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College.
This clip of Bryant and his daughter “Gigi” went viral late last month:
It is not yet clear what caused the crash, but the Los Angeles Times reports that the helicopter burst into flames after going down on a hillside amid foggy flying conditions. The FAA is investigating the tragedy, which occurred a little before 10 a.m. local time. The helicopter had apparently taken off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, where Bryant lived, and a witness told the Los Angeles Times that he saw the Sikorsky S-76B flying “real row” and “falling and sputtering” before the crash.
Fans, athletes, and many public figures remembered Bryant on social media after hearing the news.
NBA teams and players also memorialized Bryant and his daughter during Sunday’s games.
Throughout his tenured career with the Lakers, Bryant achieved an astounding level of professional successes and milestones, which included five NBA Championship wins, 18 NBA All-Star titles, and two NBA Finals MVP awards. He finished his reign as the NBA’s fourth all-time scorer with 33,643 points — LeBron James passed him for third on Saturday, to which Bryant responded with a congratulations. Bryant also led Team USA to two consecutive gold medals at the Summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012. His numbers, 8 and 24, were subsequently retired by the Lakers upon his own retirement in 2016.
In 2003, Bryant was arrested for sexual assault in Colorado, after a 19-year-old woman who worked at a hotel where Bryant had stayed alleged that he had raped her. Bryant claimed the encounter was consensual and later avoided trial after his accuser, who had faced a wave of negative publicity and character attacks from Bryant’s lawyers, said she no longer wanted to testify. She later received a undisclosed settlement after filing a civil suit against Bryant.
After retiring, Bryant dabbled in the film industry by writing and narrating the animated short Dear Basketball, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018.
This is a breaking news story and this post has been updated throughout.