Kobe Bryant death: LA Lakers legend dies alongside 13-year-old daughter Gianna in tragic helicopter crash

Malik Ouzia, Rebecca Speare-Cole
Kobe Bryant death: LA Lakers legend dies alongside 13-year-old daughter Gianna in tragic helicopter crash
REUTERS

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has been killed in a helicopter crash in California at the age of 41, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

The former LA Lakers star was travelling in his private helicopter when it crashed in the hills in Calabasas on Sunday morning, killing all nine people onboard.

His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria, also died in the helicopter crash with her dad.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver tweeted: "The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna."

The city of Calabasas said on Twitter: "It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt."

The Los Angeles County Sheriff said that five people died in a helicopter crash, which was called in just after 10am, and that there were no survivors.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva later said in a statement that nine people, including the pilot, had died in the crash but was awaiting the coroner’s report before confirming any identities as it would be “inappropriate” to do so.

First responders put out the flames of the crash site, the sheriff's department said, posting a picture of a fire truck and smoke emerging from the brush in a ravine.

Known simply as Kobe, he was one of those rare sports stars who are so iconic that they are referred to by just one word.

Firefighters work the scene of a helicopter crash where former NBA star Kobe Bryant died (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Tributes poured in to Bryant from figures across both the sporting the celebrity worlds.

Bryant was known to use a helicopter for travel dating to his days as a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers, when he commuted to games in a Sikorsky S-76 chopper.

Considered one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, Bryant was a truly global star who spent all 20 years of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, who drafted him straight out of high school in 1996, and is the franchise’s all-time leading point scorers.

During his time in Los Angeles, Bryant won five NBA championships, including three in a row between 2000-2002. He was named an NBA all-star 18 times during his career, and was twice NBA Finals MVP.

He retired in 2016, finishing his career with 33,643 regular season points, ranking him fourth on the NBA’s all-time list, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and LeBron James, the latter having only surpassed his mark on Saturday night.

In a 2006 matchup against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant scored an incredible 81 points in a single game, a feat bettered only once in NBA history, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game back in 1962.

Bryant was also a key part of the US team that won gold at both the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic Games.

NFL star Tom Brady and Olympic champion runner Usain Bold lead the tributes to the basketball legend.

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World mourns death in helicopter crash of NBA star Kobe Bryant - LIVE