Former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, an 18-time All-Star who won five NBA titles throughout an illustrious basketball career, died along with his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash on Sunday outside Los Angeles, according to multiple reports. He was 41; his daughter was 13.
TMZ first reported the news, which was confirmed by NBC, CNN and ESPN.
Officials said that Bryant and his daughter were passengers aboard a helicopter that crashed in the Los Angeles County suburb of Calabasas. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office said all passengers aboard the helicopter died, with the flight manifest indicating that nine people were aboard Bryant’s craft.
A watch commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told the Times that the helicopter they were traveling in crashed and immediately burst into flames at around 10 a.m. PT. The bushfire the crash ignited made it difficult for emergency personnel to access the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the helicopter, an S-76, crashed under “unknown circumstances.” The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, the agency said.
During his 20-year NBA career, Bryant cemented himself as one of the greatest shooters in the game’s history. He finished his career after amassing 33,643 points, two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards and one regular season MVP honor.
A Philadelphia native, Bryant began his NBA career in 1996 after entering the league straight out of high school. He retired following the 2015-2016 season, capping his career with a 60-point game at the Staples Center.
After an illustrious basketball career, Bryant took to the sidelines as a coach for Gianna’s middle-school basketball team.
When discussing what it was like to coach his daughter’s team in 2018, Bryant described the experience as “fun.”
“We’ve been working together for a year and a half and they’ve improved tremendously in that time. I’ve got a group of great parents, a group of really, really intelligent, hardworking girls, and — they’re all seventh graders, they’re all 12 years old — but they’ve been playing so well!” he added then.
“I play ’em up now,” he also exclaimed. “They’ve been playing eighth and ninth grade, they’ve been winning tournaments. But the most important thing is they keep improving, keep getting better and they love doing it. They love being around each other.”