NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were among several people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Bryant was
Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna Bryant, who was , when the helicopter crashed, sources told Wojnarowski. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a news conference later Sunday that there were no survivors, and according to the flight manifest, there were nine people on board the helicopter.
Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby said the Federal Aviation Administration is on the scene and will work with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the crash. He said authorities will not release names of victims until they are identified and next of kin notified.
Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli was among the victims, his assistant, Ron La Ruffa, told the Orange County Register. Altobelli won four California community college titles in his years at the school.
A source told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that the Lakers found out about Bryant’s death while on the team plane flying home from Philadelphia.
“Everyone is in shock,” a team source said.
The crash comes one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. As late as 55 pm ET on Saturday, Bryant was active on social media, congratulating James on Twitter during the Lakers’ – (loss to the Philadelphia
James inscribed his sneakers with “Mamba 4 Life” and “8 / 41 KB “in gold marker before the game, showing respect for Bryant, an – time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame this year. All week, in the lead-up to the milestone, he was quick to laud Bryant.
“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” James said. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 20 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold , it’s very humbling and it’s dope.
“Kobe’s a legend, that’s for damn sure.”
A 6-foot-6 small forward with the ability to swing up front and play point or shooting guard, Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school. In , at age , he became the youngest player in NBA h istory.
He won five NBA titles in his time with the Lakers, as well as two Olympic gold medals playing for the United States. Now fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with , 823 points, Bryant won two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA regular-season MVP nod in
Shaquille O’Neal, who won three titles with Bryant in Los Angeles, posted on Instagram: “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother 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! “
This week marked the 20 – year anniversary of Bryant’s – point game against the Toronto Raptors, still the second-most points ever scored in an NBA game, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 108.
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.
“For seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 39 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world. “
The NBA played its games Sunday – something the fiercely competitive Bryant likely would have appreciated. A moment of silence was held at the first NBA game of the day – the Nuggets vs. the Rockets in Denver. The Raptors and Suns each allowed 29 seconds to run off the clock on the first two possessions without playing. Orlando took a – second violation and the Magic followed with an eight-second backcourt violation. The Knicks and Nets also took shot-clock violations at Madison Square Garden, which was lit in purple and gold. The Pelicans and Celtics also took violations, and Boston’s Jaylen Brown pretended to take a shot as the shot clock hit eight.
Bryant passed his childhood idol, Michael Jordan , on the all-time scoring list in . Jordan embraced Bryant, fueling his passion for the game. The two had a memorable matchup in Bryant’s first All-Star Game selection in New York’s Madison Square Garden, and later, when Jordan played for the Washington Wizards , Bryant scored points in a half (en route to 76 for the game) against him.
“He knows how much I’ve learned from him,” Bryant said of Jordan in , “from the other legends and him in particular.”
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing,” Jordan said in a statement. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette [Prieto, Jordan’s wife] joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world. “
A Philadelphia native, Bryant was selected No. (overall in) by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. He wore with the Lakers both Nos. 8 and 33, both of which were retired by the franchise. He was credited with changing how NBA front offices viewed wing talent coming out of high school into the draft.
“I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant. One of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest lakers, “James said Saturday night. “The man got two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”
Bryant is the only player in NBA history to have multiple jerseys retired by a single franchise.
On Nov. , , Bryant announced he intended to retire at the end of the season, which launched a farewell tour for the ages. He played in 90 games that season for Los Angeles, averaging 26 .6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
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