Former NBA star Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna, among nine dead in helicopter crash

NBA legend Kobe Bryant has been killed in the crash of his private helicopter near Los Angeles. The 41-year-old was travelling with as many as eight others Sunday morning when the helicopter went down.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances near Calabasas, California.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed in a statement that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was with him on the helicopter. It’s unclear who else was on board.

Bryant is considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. During his 20 year career he was an All-Star 18 times. He won 5 NBA championships, was twice named NBA Finals MVP and he was named the league MVP in 2008. He was the fourth-highest scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, surrendering third spot on the list on Saturday night to LeBron James. He used Twitter to extend his congratulations to James: “Much respect my brother,” he tweeted.

Kobe Bean Bryant was born in Philadelphia on August 23, 1978. He grew up in Italy where his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professional basketball after his own NBA career.

After his retirement, Bryant launched his production company, Granity Studios. His first project, “Dear Basketball,” won the Oscar for best short animated film in 2008. 

In November, Bryant told CBS News he wanted to be remembered for generations as a “storyteller,” with the “basketball side” being for the older generations.

He said 50 years from now, he wanted to be remembered “as a person that was able to create stories that inspired their children and families to bond together. And for the children to dream. Then have the initiative to wake up every morning and do all they can to help that dream become a reality, you know, that would be really, really cool.”

At the start of their game Sunday afternoon, the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs each allowed the shot clock to run down (24 seconds) without making a play. Bryant wore number 24.

(with files from CBS News)
feature image courtesy of ESPN via Twitter