The American basketball legend Kobe Bryant died on Sunday at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, in the state of California. His thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna died in the same accident.
Bryant was one of the passengers aboard the helicopter, which crashed around 7 p.m. (Dutch time). According to the American aviation authority FAA, all fatalities were aboard the helicopter.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, later confirmed that besides Bryant also his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna was in the custody and died. No official statement has yet been made about the identity of the other occupants.
Initially, five deaths were reported by the Los Angeles sheriff's office. Sheriff Alex Villanueva himself later stated during a press conference that a total of nine people were killed, namely the pilot and eight passengers. He could not confirm that Bryant and his daughter were among the victims.
"It is not appropriate to go into the identity of the victims while the coroner is still working on its task," said Villanueva.
The cause of the crash is still being investigated, but various media report that visibility into the area of the crash was limited due to fog. The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, was on its way from Bryant's hometown of Newport Beach to the Mamba Sports Academy, where Gianna Bryant would play a basketball game later in the day, while her father would act as a coach.
15Images of crashed helicopter Kobe Bryant
Bryant one of the best basketball players ever
Bryant is one of the best basketball players of all time. He played his entire career for Los Angeles Lakers (1996-2016) and became champion five times in the North American basketball competition NBA.
The guard was voted the most valuable player (MVP) in the NBA in 2008. He was also an All-Star eighteen times and twice the MVP of the NBA Finals.
With 33,643 points, Bryant is fourth on the all-time top scorers list of the NBA. The current Lakers star LeBron James passed his countryman on Saturday by making 29 points against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bryant, who had been using a helicopter for years to get around the traffic in Los Angeles, married Vanessa Laine in 2001. The couple has four daughters.
Pictures from the career of Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant at the start of his career in 1996. © Getty Images
In 2016, Kobe Bryant ended his long basketball career. © Getty Images
He played his entire career for the Lakers. © Pro Shots
The guard was voted the most valuable player (MVP) in the NBA in 2008. He was also an All-Star eighteen times and twice the MVP of the NBA Finals. © Getty Images
Bryant in 2012 after winning Olympic gold in London with the United States. © Getty Images
Bryant, here during a visit to the US Open in 2019 with Roger Federer, is seen as one of the best basketball players ever. © Getty Images