Basketball legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, sources confirm to CNN.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant was also killed, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CNN.
Bryant, 41, and his daughter were expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for noon Sunday. Gianna was expected to play in the game and Bryant was expected to coach, according to Lady Mavericks team director Evelyn Morales.
Five people were killed in the crash on a hillside in Calabasas, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. There were no survivors, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. The sheriff’s department received reports of the downed aircraft just after 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m PT), officials said in a tweet.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrenda said he didn’t immediately have any information about whether the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter radioed a distress signal.
“Individuals that saw the aircraft said it was coming down at a fairly significant rate of speed and impacted the ground on the hillside,” he told reporters.
Imbrenda said he didn’t know where the helicopter came from or where it was headed.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Tranportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, the FAA said in a tweet.
Pictures taken shortly after the crash showed fog in the area. Sunday morning’s weather also included light wind and temperatures in the mid-50s.
Calabasas is about 30 miles west of Los Angeles.
A heralded career
Bryant’s death comes a day after LeBron James passed him as No. 3 on the NBA all-time scoring list when he scored 33,643 points.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” Bryant tweeted Saturday night.
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant started playing basektball when he was 3 and went on to become one of the NBA’s greatest champions. He was drafted to the NBA straight out of Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia in 1996. He was the youngest player in NBA history at that time, at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days.
Bryant played his entire professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five NBA championships.
Bryant has two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball.
Bryant retired in April 2016. He said “his body knew it was time to say goodbye.”
“In many ways he was the Los Angeles Lakers. When you think of Kobe Bryant, it’s sports, but it’s more than sports. He was part of our culture, Olympic teams, Hollywood, the father of four daughters,” CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan said. Bryant was seen at women’s sporting events including the US women’s soccer team and WNBA games with his daughters. She said he was “all about the empowerment of young women.”
She said Bryant “become a cultural icon and not just about sports, but about our culture and a huge piece of Americana and that’s why this news is absolutely tragic.”
Mourning Bryant’s death
Everyone from current and former NBA players to former President Barack Obama mourned Bryant’s death.
“Nooooooooooo God please No!” retired NBA player Dwyane Wade tweeted at the news.
Former NBA player Scottie Pippen tweeted: “I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.”
NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal tweeted: “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother…”
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents,” Obama tweeted.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called Bryant a “giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.
“He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”
President Donald Trump tweeted about Bryant’s death in the crash, “That is terrible news!”
A love of helicopters
Ten years ago, GQ Magazine wrote about how Bryant regularly took his own helicopter to work:
“He takes a private helicopter from Orange County, where he lives with his wife and two children, to every home game. It’s a nice dash of glitz, a touch of showbiz (but) Bryant says the helicopter is just another tool for maintaining his body. It’s no different than his weights or his whirlpool tubs or his custom-made Nikes.
“Given his broken finger, his fragile knees, his sore back and achy feet, not to mention his chronic agita, Bryant can’t sit in a car for two hours. The helicopter, therefore, ensures that he gets to Staples Center feeling fresh, that his body is warm and loose and fluid as mercury when he steps onto the court.”
The chopper was adorned with his logo.
By Artemis Moshtaghian, Chloe Melas and Darran Simon, CNN
Duke Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski on the passing of Kobe and Gianna Bryant
“We have tragically lost one of the greatest sports figures of our time with the passing of Kobe Bryant. He was an incredibly gifted person who was universally respected. He was in constant pursuit of doing something special and there will never be a greater warrior in our sport. I had the amazing honor of coaching Kobe in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, and I will always remember how much he cherished representing his country in a first-class manner playing the game he so loved. The game of basketball is better today because of Kobe, and he deserves eternal appreciation for that. This is a devastating loss, made even more tragic by the passing of his daughter, Gianna, and all others on board. The entire Krzyzewski family is saddened as we genuinely loved and admired Kobe. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Vanessa, their daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and the families of those involved.”
This photo taken this morning at #KobeBryant tournament in #calabasas as the kids received the news. A youth team from Tenaya was playing in the tournament when they received the news and cancelled games. #heartbreaking pic.twitter.com/8uqbX4idvQ
— Alexan Balekian (@RealALEXAN) January 26, 2020
— Alexan Balekian (@RealALEXAN) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant was not only one of the greatest basketball players ever, he was also the hardest working player I’ve ever been around. I was so fortunate to have known him and coached him with Team USA. Our thoughts and our prayers are with his wife, Vanessa, and the Bryant family.
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) January 26, 2020