National Basketball Association (NBA) legend Kobe Bryant is dead.
The basketball legend who plied his entire 20 years professional basketball trade at Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 2016, died after his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California early Sunday, January 26, 2020 morning, according to authorities.
The legend, also the founder, CEO, writer and producer at Granity Studios was aged 41.
He was travelling in a private chopper which had seven other occupants that crashed and burst into flames.
Initial reports from fire department indicated all those on board died in the horrible crash that plunged the sports fraternity into mourning.
Kobe’s daughter Gianna Maria Onore alias GiGi aged 13, is reported to be among the occupants of the helicopter and also died in the accident.
TMZ reported that Kobe and GiGi were on their way to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice.
Kobe was married to Vanessa Bryant, and together had four children namely Bianka, Gianna, Natalia, and Capri, the latter being the youngest.
In a rare coincidence, Kobe passed on few hours after fellow top basketballer James LeBron smashed his record in the NBA all time scoring list, on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Kobe, who hardly takes up sporting challenges easily, surprisingly congratulated LeBron in a brief tweet, lauding him for taking the sport forward.
LeBron James beat Kobe’s all-time scoring list on Saturday, January 25 during the Lakers’ game against Philadelphia 76ers.
ABC News reported that the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances, making reference to spokesperson from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
The City of Calabasas confirmed the incident in a Twitter statement.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash. The helicopter crashed in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10am this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt,” read the City’s tweet.
Authorities in the area are investigating what could have caused the crash
The basketball star’s accolades include the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP.)
Kobe was also a two-time NBA scoring champion and a two-time Olympic champion, besides winning an Oscar for the best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball.
Dear Basketball was a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport which the star had written in 2015, one year before retiring from the sport he professionally played for two decades.
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
US Presdient Donald Trump, termed the news devastating