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Kobe Bryant and his daughter die in helicopter crash in Calabasas

Kobe Bryant dies in crash

UPDATE: 6 p.m.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California on Sunday, his sudden death at age 41 touching off an outpouring of grief for a star whose celebrity transcended basketball.

The chopper went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities said that nine people were aboard the helicopter and presumed dead. Bryant, an all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among the victims, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed, a different person familiar with the case said.

Also killed were John Altobelli, head coach of Southern California's Orange Coast College baseball team, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same team as Bryant's daughter, said his brother, Tony, who is the sports information director at the school.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva would not confirm the identities of the victims Sunday afternoon pending official word from the coroner.

“God bless their souls,” Villanueva said at a news conference.

News of the charismatic superstar's death rocketed around the sports and entertainment worlds, with many taking to Twitter to register their shock, disbelief and anguish.

“Words can't describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me," retired NBA great Michael Jordan said. “We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force."

NBA players were in tears during pre-game warmups as crowds chanted “Kobe! Kobe!” Tiger Woods was unaware of the news during his final round at Torrey Pines in San Diego when he started hearing the gallery yell “Do it for Mamba,” referring to Bryant by his nickname.

People were glued to their phones and TV screens all around the world as news of the crash spread and networks broke into programming with live coverage. A visibly shaken LeBron James wiped his eyes with tissues and walked away alone from the Lakers plane that had just landed in Southern California.

Thousands of people gathered to mourn Bryant outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, where there is a statue of the retired Lakers legend. Mourners in number 24 jerseys mixed with those in fancy dress arriving at the downtown arena for Sunday evening’s Grammy Awards.

People carried flowers and chanted “Kobe!” and “MVP!” under giant video screens showing Bryant’s smiling face.

Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific shot-maker with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team of investigators to the site. The NTSB typically issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned. A ruling on the cause can take a year or more.

Firefighters hiked in with medical equipment and hoses, and medical personnel rappelled to the site from a helicopter, but found no survivors, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

Firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through about a quarter acre (.10 hectares) of dry brush, Osby said.


UPDATE: 1:09 p.m.

According to TMZ, Bryant's reps have confirmed that Kobe Bryant's daughter has also died in the crash. TMZ reports Gianna Bryant, 13, was headed to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice with her father when the helicopter went down.


ORIGINAL: 12:17 p.m.

According to multiple reports, former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash.

The five-time NBA champion was travelling in his private helicopter with a group of people when it went down. The crash caused a small brush fire in Calabasas, and reports say everybody on board passed away.

Bryant was 41 years old, and leaves behind a wife and three children.



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