Former NBA star Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash


The Los Angeles Lakers legend was killed along with his teenage daughter and seven others on board

Reuters |

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According to media reports, former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, USA on 26 January 2020. He was 41.
Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players whose international stardom transcended basketball, was killed at age 41 on Sunday in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others on board, officials said.
Bryant rocketed to fame as an 18-year-old rookie and played 20 years for the Los Angeles Lakers - 18 of them as an all-star - winning five NBA championships. His death sent shockwaves through the National Basketball Association, which he helped propel to global prominence, and stunned fans around the world.
The cause of the crash was unknown, and an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board could take months.
Bryant was known since his playing days to travel frequently by helicopter to avoid the Los Angeles area’s notorious traffic.
His Sikorsky S-76 chopper went down in foggy weather shortly before 10 a.m. in hilly terrain just outside Calabasas, California, about 40 miles (65 km) northwest of central Los Angeles, sparking a brush fire, officials said.
“There were no survivors,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a news conference, saying the flight manifest showed nine people on board. He declined to identify them.
People gather at a memorial near Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, following reports of his death in a helicopter crash in southern California.
Photo: AP

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among those killed, and sent condolences to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa.

“He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary,” Silver said, as tributes poured in from players, politicians and entertainers.
The fire and debris field from the crash spread over a quarter-acre of steep terrain in the grass-covered foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, county Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.
Among the others on board, in addition to the pilot, were a teammate from Bryant’s daughter’s basketball squad and a parent of the teammate, NBC News reported.
Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli was also one of the victims, the Orange County Register reported, citing assistant coach Ron La Ruffa.
Reaction to Bryant’s death was swift, and moments of silence were observed before some of Sunday’s NBA games.
Fans gather around make shift memorials as they mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant in front of La Live across from Staples Center.
Photo: AP

In San Antonio, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs allowed the 24-second shot clock to expire on each of their first possessions, in tribute to Bryant’s jersey number, 24.

Stunned fans gathered near the Lakers’ home arena - the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles - surrounding a wreath with the message: “Kobe we love you RIP.”