American basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash in California, USA. The sportsman – known as ‘Black Mamba’ – was 41-years-old. His 13-year-old daughter sadly also died in the crash, which reportedly killed eight people. (Updated 09h50 SA time.)
The tragic news was first reported by TMZ. The helicopter crashed in the hills above Calabasas in California, bursting into flames, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Tributes have already poured in. South African comedian Trevor Noah, who is based in New York, tweeted: “Jesus this is heartbreaking.”
Ellen DeGeneres said: “Like everyone, I’m stunned and sadden by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.”
President Donald Trump said: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”
LA Times said Kobe was travelling in his private helicopter with one of his daughters, and another parent with their child. It has since been confirmed that others to have perished in the crash include John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was in Kobe’s basketball team.
Former Calabasas’ mayor David Shapiro has confirmed that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna (known as GiGi) also died in the crash. She too was in her father’s team and had her dreams set on following in his footsteps.
The City of Calabasas tweeted Sunday that investigations are looking into the crash “in a remote field off Las Virgenes”. They said there were no survivors.
Kobe and his daughter were apparently flying to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, to support the Lady Mavericks basketball team playing a game at noon on Sunday.
Barack Obama tweeted: “Michelle and I send love and prayers to (Kobe’s wife) Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Shaq said: “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”
Sikorsky, manufacturer of the helicopter involved in the crash, issued a statement saying: “We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today’s Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California. We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer.”
So many devastated fans rushed to the scene of the accident to lay tributes that roads have had to be closed. And Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, held at Staples Centre – home to Bryant’s basketball career – was turned from a celebration to a ceremony of remembrance.
Kobe, whose sports career began in Philadelphia, became a legend during his 20 years with the LA Lakers, since his debut at 18. Messages of support have poured in for Kobe’s wife Vanessa.
Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Lil Wayne | Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/XP7enSJkiw
— HipHopHotspot (@HipHopxHotspot) January 26, 2020
Prayers and blessing to the @kobebryant family. Such a devastating time right now. A great friend, mentor to all,positive role model and teacher of the game. Words can’t express my feeling for him as a person, father and player. It hurts. RIP Black Mamba pic.twitter.com/qDCB5BObv7
— Donovan McNabb (@donovanjmcnabb) January 26, 2020
"Always enjoy the journey."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) January 26, 2020
"It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t. So don’t take it lightly." – Kobe Bryant
— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) January 26, 2020
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 FAA and NTSB are investigating.
— City of Calabasas (@CityofCalabasas) January 26, 2020
Watch this Kobe commercial and say this isn’t the most ironic ad of all time considering Kobe died in a helicopter crash. RIP Kobe Bryant. Absolutely eerie… pic.twitter.com/GT1PeWzXxI
— Reddit HipHopHeads 💭 (@RedditHipHop) January 26, 2020
A mentality like no other. The job was never complete. I love you.
Rest In Peace, Kobe Bryant 🙏 pic.twitter.com/k1euHWZOuB
— Ball Is Life 🏀 (@BaIIersOnly) January 26, 2020
Was Kobe Bryant a flawed human being? He was.
Does his transcendent contribution to the game of basketball erase that? It does not.
But life is not black and white. Nor are our feelings when we reflect on him in his passing.
And that's ok.
— Bonnie Bernstein (@BonnieBernstein) January 26, 2020
Here’s LeBron James talking warmly about Kobe Bryant’s influence after passing his career points record last night. Takes on a new poignancy now pic.twitter.com/RbyPzZym1r
— Ryan Baldi (@RyanBaldiFW) January 26, 2020
Confirmed that Rick Fox is safe. Unfortunately, it appears young Gigi Bryant perished in the crash. This is Gigi.
— April is in Boston (@ReignOfApril) January 26, 2020
— Jennifer Adams (@JenAdams0105) January 26, 2020
— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) January 26, 2020
My heart truly mourns over the news today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me. You and your daughter will live forever in our hearts. There are not enough words to express my deepest sympathies to the Bryants and every family suffering from this tragedy. RIP my friend pic.twitter.com/VRmgaOaITT
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) January 27, 2020