NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others have been killed in a helicopter crash. The crash happened on a remote, steep hillside 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 (48 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities said that nine people died, with no survivors, after earlier putting the death toll at five.
Helicopter crash all on board confirmed dead
Bryant, an all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was among the victims, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
A different person familiar with the case confirmed that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva would not confirm the identities of the victims, pending official word from the coroner. “God bless their souls,” Villanueva said at a news conference.
The helicopter was described as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
Word of Bryant’s sudden death rocketed around the sports and entertainment worlds. Even more with many taking to Twitter to register their shock, disbelief and dismay.
“I’m stunned,” wrote Hall-of-Fame NBA star Scottie Pippen. “Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.”
“This can’t be true,” Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic wrote on Twitter. “No please.”
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through,” tweeted Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal. @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. … I’M SICK RIGHT NOW.”
At the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, dozens of shocked fans gathered to pay tribute to the star.
The crash came only hours after the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers icon was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia.
Even more Bryant’s final post on social media had been a tweet congratulating James on surpassing him.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote. “Much respect my brother #33644”.
NBA All-Star who won five championships
Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history. He became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. Kobe was also the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
Bryant teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
Bryant consequently retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game.