Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter among 9 dead in Calabasas helicopter crash

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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, according to an initial report from TMZ and later corroborated by the city of Calabasas.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed nine people died in a helicopter crash in a mountainous area in Calabasas, but authorities have not identified the victims. There were no survivors.

The crash also killed Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, according to a CNN report. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli also died in the crash alongside wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, the school said on its website.

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.

“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” the City of Calabasas tweeted. “The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt.”

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TMZ reported Bryant and others were traveling in Bryant’s private helicopter when it went down. The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the sheriff’s department.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, an S-76 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances. Officials said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board would investigate the crash.

The crash was reported at 10 a.m. near the intersection of Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street. Firefighters responded to the scene and extinguished the flames before determining everyone aboard the helicopter had perished.

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The crash occurred in a hilly grassland just south of Calabasas, a few miles north of Malibu and about 40 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Bryant lived in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, but he owned a personal helicopter he used to get around the area to avoid traffic, according to a report published last year in Business Insider.

Sacramento Kings Chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement Bryant was a global ambassador for the game he loved and will be missed.

“Today, the world mourns the loss of a legend. We are all extremely devastated and saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna,” Ranadivé said. “Kobe is one of the greatest competitors the NBA has ever known. His storied career and commitment to the game is revered by fans around the globe. He inspired a generation on and off the court to strive for greatness and his countless contributions to basketball will live on.

Governor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, issued a statement Sunday afternoon.

“We mourn the tragic and untimely death of a California icon and basketball legend, Kobe Bryant. In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he made history with raw talent and unparalleled dedication that raised the bar and paved the way for a newer generation of players,” the statement said. “Despite winning five NBA championships and two gold Olympic medals, and achieving countless accolades in the athletics world, he also helped improve the lives of youth and families through the Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant Foundation, and was an outspoken advocate for combating homelessness through partnerships with organizations such as My Friend’s Place and Step Up on Second.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted: “Damn, RIP Mamba. May your memory be a blessing.”

Bryant died hours after Lakers star LeBron James passed him for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. On Saturday night, Bryant tweeted: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingsJames. Much respect my brother.”

That was Bryant’s final post on Twitter.

Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shareef, a UCLA basketball player tweeted on Sunday that he gotten a text from Bryant on Sunday morning at 8:19 a.m., asking O’Neal if he is OK. O’Neal had just announced last week he is leaving UCLA.

“You good fam?” Bryant texted. Bryant had long had an on-again, off-again friendship with O’Neal’s father, Bryant’s longtime Laker teammate.

“Yeah!” O’Neal responded, two hours later, apparently unaware the crash had happened. “Just ... trying to figure out my next move. How you been?”

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Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.

He 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’s loss was being felt in the Sacramento area as well. While Kings players reacted on Twitter, others started retweeting a post from Roseville High School in December, which thanked Bryant for contributing $5,000 to its girls’ basketball program.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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