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Kobe Bryant, Eight Others, Dead in L.A. Helicopter Crash

RIP #24
Other passengers were still being identified.

Tarpley HittJan. 26, 2020 4:25 PM ET

A helicopter carrying nine passengers, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, crashed over Calabasas, California, on Sunday, killing everyone on board.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which has yet to identify the victims, the crash was detected shortly before 10 a.m. on a hillside near Malibu. 

When authorities arrived, they discovered a quarter-acre brushfire on the hillside. Malibu deputies scanned the crash site for survivors. But none of the nine people on board, including the pilot, who has not yet been identified, survived, L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters.

ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday afternoon that the former L.A. Lakers star and his young daughter Gianna Maria Onore were en route to Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, not far from Los Angeles.

The Orange County Register reported that Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, who was chosen as the American Baseball Coaches Association’s national coach of the year in 2019, was also among the victims.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva declined to name the victims until they had been identified by the coroner.

“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” he said. “That is just wholly inappropriate so we are not going to be going there. We are going to wait until the coroner does their job.”

Vanessa Bryant, the basketball player’s wife, was not believed to be among the passengers, nor was Rick Fox, another former L.A. Laker initial accounts suggested may have been onboard.

Bryant, who helped the Lakers win five championships, was known for flying in helicopters frequently, often commuting even short distances in his preferred model, a Sikorsky S-76.

The night before the crash, Bryant had been in Philadelphia to watch LeBron James unseat him for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant and James commemorated the night in an Instagram post of the pair. “On to #2 @kingjames!” Bryant wrote. “Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next. 💪🏾”

Shaquille O’Neal mourned the death of his former Lakers teammate on Twitter, writing, “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed.”

“My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW,” he added.

NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s known Bryant since he was 11 years old, also paid tribute to the basketball superstar in a video posted on Twitter.

“I had the privilege of being there when he scored his 81-point game. It was something I will always remember,” he said. “Kobe, my thoughts are with you, absolutely. Rest in peace, young man. This loss, it’s just hard to comprehend. Go with god.”

Several NBA games began playing following news of Bryant’s death, with players paying tribute to him. The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs began their game with both teams running out the 24-second shot clock—taking violations in the process—in honor of Bryant’s number.

Word of Bryant’s death was first reported by TMZ. 

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