Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Laker who became one of the NBA’s all-time greats and went on to become an Oscar-winning producer, died Sunday morning in a helicoper crash in Calabasas, CA. He was 41.
Bryant was traveling to a youth basketball game when the crash occurred. Authorities said nine people are confirmed dead, including Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, age 13. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, was not among the passengers.
The helicopter crash resulted in a fire that triggered emergency personnel to the scene. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the crash occurred around 10 AM in Calabasas, a city located 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The Federal Aviation Administration identified the helicopter as a Sikorsky S-76, which Bryant owned. It crashed under “unknown circumstances.” The FAA said it was informed by local authorities that were were five people on board at the time.
Bryant has used a helicopter to travel around California for years, dating back to his time with the Lakers. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and three other daughters.
Later reports indicated Bryant and his daughter were on the way to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in California on Sunday morning. Bryant co-founded the training facility for professional and amateur athletes in Thousand Oaks, CA. in 2018. There was a basketball game scheduled at the facility.
Lebron James just Saturday passed Bryant’s career total of 33,643 points on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. James is now third behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387). Bryant played 20 years for the Lakers, averaging 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 1,346 regular-season games. He won an MVP Award and was selected to play in 18 All-Star Games.
Kobe Bryant was born August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, the son of former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant. He was drafted out of high school in 1996 in the first round as the 13th pick by the Charlotte Hornets, who then traded him to the Lakers. He ended his career in 2016. In his final NBA game, Bryant scored 60 points, helping the Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz, 101-96. He scored 23 points in the final quarter.
Bryant won an Oscar in 2018 for Best Animated Short, Dear Basketball, which was based on a short poem he wrote on his feelings about the game. It marked the first time a former professional athlete was nominated for an Oscar and he became the first pro athlete to win an Oscar in any category. Bryant was also the first African American to win in the Best Animated Short Film category.