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Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in helicopter crash

Posted at 11:43 AM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 19:53:16-05

CALABASAS, Calif. (KGTV) -- Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, multiple sources have confirmed.

He was 41-years-old.

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball star was among nine people who died in the helicopter crash, ABC News reported.

Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, were traveling to a basketball game, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Another player and parent reportedly were also on board.

The helicopter departed John Wayne Airport in Orange County at around 9 a.m. Sunday morning en route to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game when the crash occurred.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputies responded to reports of a helicopter in distress over the area of the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road around 10 a.m., according to flight records. Officials said flames broke out shortly after the crash, but were quickly extinguished.

A spokesperson with the National Transportation Safety Board said the circumstances surrounding the crash of the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter are unknown at this time.

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After the news broke, thousands of fans swarmed to the STAPLES Center, but the Los Angeles Police Department warned that "the area around the Staples Center is closed due to the Grammys & fans will not be able to access the arena."

According to TMZ, Bryant has famously used a helicopter to travel for several years. He often commuted from Newport Beach to the STAPLES Center when he played for the Lakers, TMZ says.

Bryant was drafted to the NBA in 1996 out of high school, spending his entire 20-year career with the Lakers. The team retired both of his jersey numbers, 8 and 24, in 2017.

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He led his teams to five NBA championships and was awarded NBA MVP in 2008 and NBA Finals MVP in both 2009 and 2010.

Bryant also took home gold as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2012 games in London. He had been coaching his daughter Gianna's middle school basketball team after retiring from basketball in 2016.

"Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court -- and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Newport Beach city officials also issued a statement about one of its community's most notable residents.

"It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Newport Beach resident and international sports legend Kobe Bryant," city officials said. "Our prayers are with his family, friends, colleagues and neighbors as our community grieves this sudden and devastating loss. Kobe leaves behind an unmatched legacy of excellence, on and off the court, that will not be forgotten."

Bryant and his daughter are survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three other children: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

As a result of Bryant’s death, the National Basketball Association postponed Tuesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers. The Lakers released the following statement:

In consultation with the NBA League office, the game scheduled between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers for Tuesday, January 28 will be postponed and scheduled for a future date.

The Los Angeles Lakers would like to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences. This is a very difficult time for all of us. We continue to support the Bryant family and will share more information as it is available.