Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna also killed in crash
CALABASAS, California— Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41.
Bryant died in a crash near Calabasas, California, 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.
Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter and that all were presumed dead. No names were released. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said it was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash.
Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s notorious traffic. Even as a player, he often traveled to practices and games by helicopter, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his business ventures.
The NTSB sent a “go team” of investigators to the site. NTSB generally issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned. It will not state a probable cause – that can take a year or longer to determine.
The Sikorsky S-76 “is generally regarded as a good helicopter with a good safety record,” said Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney in Kansas City who wrote a textbook on helicopter crash litigation. “But parts fail, parts break. Anything can happen.”
The crash occurred several miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks, California. Bryant, who had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa, dedicated himself to boosting women’s sports in his retirement.
Colin Storm was in his living room in Calabasas when he heard “what sounded like a low-flying airplane or helicopter.”
“Ït was very foggy so we couldn’t see anything,” he said. “But then we heard some sputtering, and then a boom.”
A short time later the fog cleared a bit and Storm could see smoke rising from the hillside in front of his home.
Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.
“Continuing to move the game forward (at)KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”
On Saturday night, James said he was “happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball player to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.”
News of Bryant’s death inspired an outpouring of grief around the sports world and beyond. The NBA kept its games as scheduled when the news broke, but the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors both took voluntary 24-second shot clock violations at the start of their game in honor of Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the second half of his career.
Along with his work boosting women’s sports, he opened a production company and entered the entertainment field in retirement. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball,” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN.