Kobe Bryant was reportedly one of five people killed today in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
According to TMZ, among the other passengers killed was Byant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant. Bryant was 41 and leaves behind his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant (who he married in 2001) and his three other children: Natalia Diamante Bryant, Bianka Bella Bryant, and Capri Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have confirmed there were no survivors of the crash. An investigation is ongoing as to what caused the S-76 to crash, though it was reportedly a very foggy day. None of the other victims have been identified. According to ABC, "Witnesses who were mountain biking in the area saw the helicopter in distress, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda told reporters. It is not known whether the pilot alerted over radio that the aircraft was in distress, Imbrenda said."
In a bizarre twist of fate, the crash comes only one day after LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time highest scoring list. Eerily, Bryant was active on social media late last night. He congratulated James on Twitter:
In a moving interview in the Lakers locker room last night, Lebron shared his memories of growing up watching Kobe Bryant play.
Kobe joined the NBA in 1996 right after graduating highschool. He was born in Philadelphia but spent many of his early years in Italy, where his father played professional basketball. He was a tenacious and focused player, once saying: "I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot."
Kobe was a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star selection. Bryant is the Lakers' franchise leader in points (33,643), games played (1,346), 3-pointers (1,827), steals (1,944) and free throws (8,378), among other things.
The importance basketball held in Kobe's life was further illuminated in the autobiographical short film Dear Basketball, which won the best animated short Oscar in 2019. He wrote, executive produced, and performed the voice over for the film.
Kobe was also a staple of the L.A. community, contributing to multiple charities fighting homelessness and working with after school programs. The Black Mamba retired in 2016; in his final game at the Staples Center, he dropped 60 points on 50 shots, handing the Lakers his last win, as only a basketball god could do.