Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, a city in Los Angeles County in the United States, news reports said.
Kobe Bryant, 41, the legendary basketball star who spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames Sunday morning amid foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas, sources told the Los Angeles Times.
His daughter Gianna, 13, was also on board and died along with seven others, authorities said. NBA officials confirmed that Bryant and his daughter were on the aircraft, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were nine people on the aircraft — a pilot and eight passengers. He would not confirm who had died until all the next-of-kin are notified, he said.
A member of the Los Angeles Country sheriff’s department gives more details. He does not confirm the identities of any of those who died in the crash. Initial reports said five people were on board the helicopter, but it seems that there were more.
“As the chief indicated there were no survivors. We have a manifest to indicate there were nine people on board of the aircraft. The pilot plus eight individuals. There is wide speculation who the identities are, however it is entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identification through their process and made notifications to the next of kin.
“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one who has perished and you learn about it from TMZ. That is just wholly inappropriate. So, we’re not going to be going there. We’re going to wait until the coroner does her job and we’re assisting the families of those who believe they have been impacted and it’s a tough process.”
Bryant was known to use a helicopter for travel dating to his days as a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers, when he commuted to games in a Sikorsky S-76 chopper, the celebrity news website TMZ said.
Named Kobe by his parents after they spotted the popular Japanese cut of beef on a restaurant menu shortly before his birth, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, having won titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
He was drafted out of high school with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was traded shortly after to the Lakers for Serbian Vlade Divac.
He appeared in 17 All-Star games, was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2007-08 regular season and landed MVP honours in the 2009 and 2010 finals, when he led the Lakers to consecutive championships.
Bryant has also won gold medals with the US basketball team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Bryant was sidelined nearly eight months in 2013 with a torn Achilles tendon, then played just six games during the 2013-14 season because of a severe knee injury.
Author: Staff Writer