Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, has died in a helicopter crash, according to multiple reports. He was 41.
TMZ initially reported the news, and said Bryant was on board the helicopter along with four others when it crashed at 10am local time near Calabasas in California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the aircraft crashed in foggy weather, and ignited brushfires, making it hard for rescue crews to get close to the site. There were no reported survivors.
“We received a call just before 10am this morning of an aircraft down in the Malibu area, right off of Las Vergenes, essentially Calabasas,” said Tony Imbrenda of the Los Angeles County fire department, told reporters at the scene. “Some folks were out here mountain biking this morning, they saw an aircraft in distress, they went down into the hillside. This was a helicopter, it’s been confirmed it was an S-76 Sikorsky helicopter and unfortunately there were no survivors.”
Bryant played his entire, 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. He won five championships with the team and was named an All-Star on 18 occasions. He retired in 2016 as the NBA’s third-highest all-time scorer. He also won gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Bryant’s reputation was tarnished after he was arrested in 2003 over accusations he had raped a teenager at a hotel in Colorado. Bryant denied the allegations, saying the encounter had been consensual. The case was dropped after the alleged victim refused to testify at trial. He later apologised to the woman, saying “I recognise now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did”.
On Saturday night, another NBA legend, LeBron James, paid tribute to Bryant after passing him to become the third-highest scorer in the league’s history.
“He is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation,” said James. “He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same [Lakers] jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling.”
Dwyane Wade, who played alongside Bryant on Team USA’s gold medal winning squad at the 2008 Olympics, was one of the first basketball stars to react to the news on Sunday. “Nooooooooooo God please No!” he wrote on Twitter.
Players and fans observed a minute’s silence at the first scheduled NBA game on Sunday, an encounter between the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets. The Lakers’ next game is on Tuesday at their home arena, the Staples Center.
Bryant was married to Vanessa, with whom he had four daughters. His father, Joe, also played in the NBA.
The post Kobe Bryant: NBA legend dies in helicopter crash at age of 41 appeared first on The Guardian.