Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna have died in a helicopter crash, TMZ reports.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating a helicopter crash on Sunday that claimed the life of 41-year-old NBA legend, Kobe Bryant. Per TMZ, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were two of the five passengers onboard a helicopter that crashed in Calabasas. Kobe and Gianna were reportedly on the way to one of her travel basketball games when the accident happened.
Along with Bryant and his daughter, ESPN reports that one of Gianna's teammates and a parent were on the helicopter when it went down. The bodies of all nine people on board were recovered from the site of the crash, and all were declared dead. "Investigators are actively working on identifying the decedents. Additionally, body examinations are in progress,” the L.A. Country Coroner's Office tells TMZ. ABC7 reports that the helicopter lost control around 15 seconds before it crashed.
Bryant's wife, Vanessa, was not in the helicopter, but we're starting to learn more about who was. CNN reports that Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa Altobelli, and wife Keri Altobelli were on the helicopter. Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan were also identified.
CBSLA shared more information on the victims.
Kobe bought a Sikorsky S-76 chopper to commute from his home in Newport Beach, California to the Staples Center during his days as a Laker. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that the helicopter didn't have a black box.
Kurt Deetz, who tells ET he flew Bryant to "every home game, every practice, and then after retirement, [for] events, meetings, family outings” from 2015-17, recalled "a lot of head nods and thumbs up and waves” from the "gracious" and "professional” Kobe during their two years flying together. The pilot from the fatal crash, Ara Zobayan, was Deetz’s former employer.
Though one report said Kobe and Vanessa Bryant had a standing agreement to never fly in the same helicopter, Deetz remembered taking them "several times" to outings together. He also spoke about a “heartwarming” Father’s Day outing with Bryant and his daughters involving “shoving and joking and a lot of giggling. A lot of giggling in the back."
Bryant and Gianna had a close relationship. Kobe sponsored and helped coach her AAU team. He would often take her to NBA games where they sat courtside while he taught her about the sport they loved.
Bryant had one of the most illustrious NBA careers in the history of the league. His 20-year career ended in 2016 after he won five championships, a league MVP, two Finals MVPs, made 18 All-Star appearances, and both the number 8 and 24 were retired by the Lakers in his honor. In fact, his death comes just a day after LeBron James passed his points total to become the third-highest scorer in NBA history.