Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Sunday, authorities said. Bryant was 41.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed around 9:45 a.m. near Calabasas. It’s unclear what caused the crash. An investigation is ongoing. 

Kobe Bean Bryant was born in Philadelphia on August 23, 1978. He grew up in Italy where his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professional basketball after his own NBA career. 

At 17 years old, Bryant was drafted out of high school in 1996, becoming the youngest player in NBA history. The 6-foot-6 swingman gave himself the nickname “Black Mamba,” a testament to his fierce, competitive nature.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts d
Kobe Bryant at Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston, on June 17, 2008. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty

Bryant, who is considered one of the greatest basketball players in history, played all 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He went on to win two more in 2009 and 2010.

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In addition to his five titles, Bryant is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history. He was selected to the all-star 18 times and earned an MVP award in 2008. He was a 12-time member of the all-defensive team and made the all-NBA team 15 times. Bryant retired in 2016 and was among several high-profile nominees for the NBA’s 2020 Hall of Fame class.

Shaquille O’Neal, who won three titles with Bryant, said there were “no words to express the pain” he’s going through in losing Bryant and his daughter. 

“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his,” O’Neal tweeted.

After his retirement, Bryant launched his production company, Granity Studios. His first project, “Dear Basketball,” won the Oscar for the best short animated film in 2008. 

In November, Bryant told CBS News he wanted to be remembered for generations as a “storyteller,” with the “basketball side” being for the older generations.

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Kobe Bryant holds the Larry O’Brien trophy as teammate Shaquille O’Neal hold the MVP trophy after winning the NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers on June 19, 2000. Getty

He said 50 years from now, he wanted to be remembered “as a person that was able to create stories that inspired their children and families to bond together. And for the children to dream. Then have the initiative to wake up every morning and do all they can to help that dream become a reality, you know, that would be really, really cool.”

LeBron James surpassed Bryant as the third all-time scoring leader on Saturday. James honored Bryant after the game. “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 told reporters. “The man has two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Source : Cbs News