One of the greatest athletes in professional sports history has passed away.
Fox News reports that 41-year-old Kobe Bryant — whose triumphant tenure with the LA Lakers spanned two decades — died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, California.
The city confirms:
It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
— City of Calabasas (@CityofCalabasas) January 26, 2020
At present time, as per the Federal Aviation Administration, the Sikorsky S-76 crashed under “unknown circumstances.”
Four others were aboard.
According to L.A. Times reporter Richard Winton, at the time of the crash, the mountains were “fogged in.”
Small plane crash on Las Virgenes on the mountains, which are fogged in right now. I heard the plane splutter and then a boom.
— Richard Winton (@LAcrimes) January 26, 2020
— Mike Rappy (@Platjet1) January 26, 2020
From Richard’s online coverage for the Times:
Jerry Kocharian was standing outside the Church in the Canyon drinking coffee when he heard a helicopter unusually low struggling overhead. “It [didn’t] sound right and it was real low. I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as It was so foggy,” Kocharian said. The helicopter vanished into a cloud of fog and then there was a boom.
There was a big fireball,” he said. “No one could survive that.”
No one did.
In 1996, Kobe was picked up during the first round of the NBA Draft. But he was traded — by the Charlotte Hornets — to Los Angeles before the beginning of the 96-97 season.
Bryant would lead the team to five NBA championships, including three straight titles from 99-02 as part of the dynasty shared with Shaquille O’Neal.
Kobe also earned two rings in ’09 and ’10.
The small forward and shooting guard played his last game in 2016 against the Utah Jazz, during which he scored 60 points.
He retired as an 18-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team pick, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and league MVP for 2008.
He made the All-NBA team 15 times.
And along the way, he made half a billion dollars.
There is, as of yet, no official confirmation of the aircraft’s other passengers.
However, TMZ is reporting Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter — Gianna Maria — was among the victims:
— TMZ (@TMZ) January 26, 2020
Kobe's daughter Gianna Maria Onore — aka GiGi — was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash. Reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.
They were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. pic.twitter.com/RPZ52gtFP7
— Karen Civil 🇭🇹 (@KarenCivil) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant’s daughter, Gianna (aka GiGi), is the one sitting with her dad in this viral clip from December.
TMZ is reporting that she was killed in the helicopter crash today along with her father and three others. So sad. pic.twitter.com/LM73m2Sz7M
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) January 26, 2020
The sports world has lost an icon.
I don’t understand. This has left me in shock. Wow. Rest Easy Kobe. I’m definitely praying for his family. 😞⛹🏾💛💜 pic.twitter.com/adcsaTHVNk
— New Queenz 👑 (@QueenAyeYoB) January 26, 2020
Life is precious, and our stay here temporary.
There’s no better time than now to tell those we love how we feel. What they mean to us. How lucky we know we are.
I believe Kobe was.
So are you.
Thank God for our luck — which isn’t luck at all, but a blessing.
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