According to multiple reports, including TMZ Sports, ESPN, and Variety, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning. Bryant was 41 years old.
TMZ initially reported that at least three other people were inside the private helicopter when it went down. It was later found that nine people in total — 8 passengers and the pilot — were killed in the crash, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Kobe Bryant Dead at 41 in Helicopter Crash
TMZ later confirmed that Gianna Maria Onore, Kobe’s daughter and rising basketball prodigy who dreamed of playing college basketball at UConn, was on board at the time of the crash, according to Kobe’s representatives.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed this, saying another player and parent were on board as the helicopter was traveling to the girls’ basketball game.
Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa Bryant and three daughters, Natalia, Bianca and newborn Capri.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that next of kin for the other passengers were being notified before their identities were made public. NJ.com reported that three of the victims were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa.
Albotelli was named by the American Baseball Coaches Association as the National Coach of the Year in 2019.
Kobe’s Daughter Gianna Killed in Crash
It’s impossible to even wrap my head around this. The 13th overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft from Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia became a superstar of global proportions. Over his NBA career, this man did it all. The NBA legend captured five NBA Championships with the Lakers, twice winning Finals MVP. The 18-time All-Star was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and was named First-Team All-NBA 11 times, as well as All-Defensive First Team nine times. Both of Kobe’s jerseys — the No. 8 he wore to start his career and No. 24 he wore at the end — were retired by the Lakers and will hang in the Staples Center rafters forever.
Perhaps the most memorable game of Kobe’s Hall-of-Fame career came on January 22, 2006 when he dropped 81 points in a comeback win over the Toronto Raptors. It’s the second-most points ever scored in a game in NBA history.
In his final NBA game, Bryant erupted for 60 points against the Utah Jazz. In our lifetime, we may never see a farewell better than Kobe’s.
Kobe Bryant’s Final Game
Bryant won an Oscar back in 2018 for the short film “Dear Basketball.”
The Lakers have not commented on the news as of this publishing. The team’s next game is schedule at home on Tuesday, January 28 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Prior to Sunday’s game between the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, a moment of silence was held in Mamba’s honor.
Just one day before his death, LeBron James passed Kobe for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and Bryant congratulated him on Twitter that Saturday night by saying, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644.”
Social media flooded with thoughts and prayers for the fallen NBA superstar and the families of those killed in the crash.
The story is still developing, and the cause of the crash is under investigation.