LOS ANGELES (Agencies): Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash early Sunday outside Los Angeles, U.S. media reported.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said there were no survivors in the crash in the hills above the Calabasas area. The helicopter crashed in foggy conditions and then caught fire.
“The #LA Sheriff’s department extends its deepest condolences to the families & friends of the 9 souls lost aboard this tragic helicopter crash in #Calabasas,” it was said on Twitter.
“Kobe Bryant is among those dead in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, a source confirms to ESPN,” NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on his Twitter account. Upon hearing the tragic news, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan said: “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying that the NBA family is devastated. A teammate from Bryant’s daughter’s basketball team, a parent of the teammate and the pilot were also killed, according to NBC News. “Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent,” Wojnarowski stated in another tweet. “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!,” U.S. President Donald Trump said.
Kobe’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, with whom he won three back-to-back championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002, also took to Instagram. “There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences go out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !”
The Eastern Conference franchise Miami Heat also expressed their condolences. “Our hearts are heavy with extreme sadness at this time. We extend our deepest prayers, thoughts, and condolences to the family of Kobe Bryant and those affected in today’s tragedy,” the three-time NBA Champions from the East said on social media.
Los Angeles Lakers’ legendary shooting guard Bryant, 41, was a five-time NBA champion. The 18-time NBA All-Star spent his illustrious 20-year-long career with the Lakers. Bryant also won gold medals as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
He also won an Oscar in 2018 when he was involved in a film called “Dear Basketball,” which was nominated for best animated short. The film depicts Bryant as a child, dreaming of becoming a basketball champion and an NBA star.