Kobe Bryant And His Daughter, Gianna, Die In Helicopter Crash In Calabasas

Melissa Rohlin

Laker great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning. He was 41.  

Nine people, including the pilot, died in the crash, L.A. County sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a press conference Sunday afternoon. He would not confirm the other passengers on the helicopter until the families of the victims were notified.  

Bryant and Gianna were on their way to a basketball game, according to ESPN. 

The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76B, crashed in a remote field off Las Virgenes just before 10:00 a.m. The helicopter was traveling in foggy conditions.  

"We extend our sincerest condolences to all those affected by today’s Sikorsky S-76B accident in Calabasas, California," Sikorsky wrote in a tweet. "We have been in contact with the NTSB and stand ready to provide assistance and support to the investigative authorities and our customer."

The city of Los Angeles and the sports world were devastated Sunday. Large crowds gathered at L.A. Live near Staples Center to mourn Bryant's death, chanting Kobe's and Gianna's names.  

A video showed LeBron James crying after the Lakers' team plane landed in Los Angeles from Philadelphia. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted a video to Twitter talking about Bryant, writing, "Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete."

Magic Johnson also took to Twitter to write that he loves Kobe and his family, adding in a tweet, "As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken."

Shaquille O'Neal, who won three NBA championships alongside Bryant from 2000-2002, tweeted, "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."

Bryant was a venerated figure worldwide and is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, leading the Lakers to five NBA championships. He spent each of his 20 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, before retiring in 2016. 

Bryant was the MVP of the league in 2008, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, an 18-time All-Star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. He had career averages of 25 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists. 

He was known for his tireless work ethic. He'd workout in dark gyms before practices and have marathon shooting sessions. 

He famously made two free throws after sustaining a torn Achilles' tendon in a game against Golden State on April 12, 2013. He had four consecutive games in 2007 in which he scored at least 50 points. He scored 62 points in three quarters in a game against Dallas in 2005. He had a career-high 81 points in game against Toronto in 2006. 

After retiring from basketball, Bryant's success continued. 

He launched another career in storytelling. He made a short film, "Dear Basketball," based on a poem he wrote when he retired, and went on to win an Oscar, Sports Emmy and Annie Award for it. 

He also founded Granity Studios, an award-winning multimedia company that tells stories around sports, and created "The Wizenard Series" in collaboration with author Wesley King, a New York Times Bestseller about five young basketball players and the power of the game. 

Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months old. 

Bryant wrote his final tweet Saturday evening, after LeBron James passed him for third on the all-time scorers list in a game against Philadelphia. 

This post was updated Sunday at 3:16 p.m.

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