US basketball star, Kobe Bryant, killed in helicopter crash

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.

The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star’s death was first confirmed by TMZ.

The outlet reported that Bryant was traveling with four other people – including daughter ‘Gi-Gi’ – in his private helicopter when it crashed, killing everyone on board.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of the crash near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas at around 10am after a fire broke out.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Witnesses reported hearing the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down.

Sources told TMZ the chopper was on its way to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice when the crash occurred, near the home of Kourtney Kardashian.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters – Natalia, Bianca and Capri, who was born last summer.

News of the NBA legend’s death sent shockwaves in the sports world and beyond.

Bryant was widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

The Philadelphia native spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships and 18 All-Star titles before he retired in 2016.

He was the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons and was the first and only player in Lakers history to have both of his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – retired.

Bryant has been known to use a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to travel for years – often flying from Newport Beach to the Staples Center for Lakers games.

Bryant’s death came one day after he was passed by Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

The unseated star congratulated James on Twitter during the Lakers’ 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

James had written ‘Mamba 4 Life’ and ‘8/24 KB’ on his sneakers in gold ink before the game to show respect for Bryant.

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