Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA players of all-time and a superstar who transcended sports, was reportedly killed in a fiery helicopter crash in California on Sunday. He was 41.
According to multiple reports, Bryant was on a helicopter flying over Calabasas – a city of 23,000 people located about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. TMZ Sports first reported that Bryant was killed in the crash. FOX Sports also confirmed the report of Bryant’s death.
The Federal Aviation Administration told Fox News the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under “unknown circumstances.” The FAA said it was informed by local authorities there five people onboard at the time.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said all five onboard had died. They did not confirm the identities of the passengers at the late-morning press conference.
Art Marrujo, a dispatch supervisor with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told the Associated Press that firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through about an acre of dry brush.
Around the time of the crash, L.A. Times reporter Richard Winton reported that the mountains were “fogged in.”
“I heard the plane splutter and then a boom,” he tweeted.
Bryant was selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He was subsequently traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac before the start of the 1996-97. It proved to be one of the most important trades in NBA history.
Bryant would help lead the Lakers to five NBA championships and was a part of one of the best NBA dynasties alongside Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and O’Neal won three straight NBA titles from 1999 to 2002. He then won two rings with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.
“The Black Mamba” wrapped up his playing career in 2016. He played his final game against the Utah Jazz and finished with an epic performance – 60 points, four rebounds and four assists.
He finished his career as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, two time NBA Finals MVP and the 2008 NBA MVP.