UPDATED: 12:32 a.m., Jan 27 —
Legendary NBA champion Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in southern California on Sunday. He was just 41 years old. He was among nine people on board, including his teenage daughter.
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The former Los Angeles Lakers star was traveling with eight other people including the pilot on a private helicopter at the time of the crash around 10 a.m. PT.
“A call for a downed helicopter in Calabasas went out at 10:01 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” NBC News reported.
Emergency personnel responded to the accident, but there were no survivors.
Fire officials said in a press conference that the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances, ABC News reports. Witnesses who were bike riding in the area saw that the helicopter was in distress, according to Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda. It was unclear, however, if the pilot alerted over the radio that the aircraft was in distress.
A call was made for a downward helicopter and a brush fire in Calabasas at 9:47 a.m. PT. Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said that the fire was a quarter-acre long and difficult to contain because it included magnesium.
The cause of the crash is currently under investigation, according to the New York Post.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not one of the passengers on board the helicopter. However, Gianna, her 13-year-old daughter with Bryant, was onboard along with baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, who played on a basketball team with Bryant’s daughter. Girls basketball coach Christina Mauser was also killed. The names of the other two victims were not immediately revealed.
They were reportedly on their way to a basketball practice session at Mamba Sports Academy, a training facility in nearby Newbury Park named for Bryant’s Black Mamba nickname.
Bryant was drafted in the NBA directly out of high school in 1996 and spent his entire professional basketball career with the Lakers. He won five NBA championships with the team and received the league MVP award in 2008 and Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010.
He also took home gold medals in 2008 and 2012 as a member of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team.
Bryant retired from the NBA in Nov. 2015, with his final game being against the Utah Jazz. He scored 60 points on April 13, 2016, as his farewell to the NBA.
Bryant’s longtime teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, took to social media Sunday afternoon to express his emotions surrounding the passing of the NBA champion and his daughter.
Fans also began gathering in front of the Staples Center ahead of Sunday night’s Grammy Awards to hold a memorial in honor of the late NBA legend.
A makeshift memorial was also erected at Bryant’s alma mater, Lower Marion High School, outside of Philadelphia.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, and their three other daughters: Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri, 7 months.
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