The world is in shock.
Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, died on Sunday (27 Jan) in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles, California, aged 41.
What’s especially heartbreaking is that his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, also died in the crash.
So, what happened?
Nine deaths in total
According to the Independent, Kobe was travelling in his private helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, with eight other people when it crashed in a remote field off Las Virgenes in Calabasas around 10:00 on Monday morning (27 Jan).
Nobody on the ground was hurt, but all nine people aboard the helicopter died in the accident.
According to CBSSports, a brush fire caused by the crash prevented first responders from immediately getting to the site.
It is still unclear what caused the crash. Investigations are ongoing.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed that there were nine people aboard the helicopter but wouldn’t confirm any identities. “It would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name,” he said.
Kobe’s daughter Gianna was one of the nine casualties, but his wife Vanessa Bryant and their other three children were not on board.
A Basketball Legend
Many of you may not know this, but while he was born in Philadelphia, Kobe actually grew up in Italy, where his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professional basketball.
In 1996, when Kobe was just 17 years old, he was drafted out of high school to play in the NBA, becoming the youngest player in NBA history.
He went on to have an outstanding career, playing 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later won two more in 2009 and 2010.
He is also the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history.
Won an Oscar
Kobe isn’t just an athlete, however. Kobe also launched a production company, Granity Studios. His first project, Dear Basketball, won the Oscar for the best short animated film in 2018.
In an interview with CBS News, Kobe said he wanted to be remembered by generations as a storyteller and “as a person that was able to create stories that inspired their children and families to bond together.”
Social Media Responses
Many were touched by Kobe’s actions on and off the court, which is why so many celebrities took to social media to mourn the 41-year-old’s death.
— Saquon Barkley (@saquon) January 26, 2020
I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) January 26, 2020
Even Donald Trump and former U.S president Barack Obama expressed their sadness at his passing.
Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant was so much more than just a great basketball player. As the Mayor of L.A, Eric Garcetti, says, he also “awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved”.
He will be remembered through the ages as “one of our greatest heroes.”