Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was reportedly among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. He was 41.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend was traveling via his private helicopter over Calabasas, California when a fire broke out, sending the chopper spiraling from the sky, according to TMZ Sports.
The deadly crash occurred around 10 a.m. Pacific time amid foggy conditions in the hills overlooking Calabasas, with the Sikorsky S-76 chopper igniting a brush fire on impact that hampered initial rescue efforts, according to The Los Angeles Times, which confirmed the deaths of Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 7 others aboard the aircraft. There were no survivors, and the cause of the crash is under investigation.
Bryant is survived by wife Vanessa, as well as the couple’s other three daughters: Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri Kobe Bryant, born last June.
The New York Post has more details:
Bryant, a Philadelphia native, starred for two decades with the Lakers, winning five championships and making 18 All-Star Games before hanging up his basketball shoes following the 2016 season.
The stunning death of the sweet-shooting guard came just hours after he toasted fellow NBA icon and current Laker LeBron James for passing him for third place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” wrote Bryant on Saturday night in his final tweet. “Much respect my brother.”
Bryant concluded the tweet with an emoji of a bicep flexing, and the hashtag “#33644,” one point more than he scored in his illustrious career.
Bryant's former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal was among numerous sports stars who expressed their condolences on Instagram Sunday.
"There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie," Shaq wrote in a caption of a vintage photograph the two celebrating on the court.
"I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !"
Besides Shaq, there was an outpouring of sadness on social media from too many athletes, artists and fans to count. Here's just a sampling:
Bryant, whose "Mamba Mentality" motto epitomized his killer instinct on the basketball court, was reportedly a lock to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, set to be announced next month.