Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash this morning. He was 41.
Bryant died near Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. A different person familiar with the case confirmed that Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed. Authorities confirmed nine people were on the helicopter and that all were presumed dead. No names were released.
Both spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the crash had not been released publicly.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said it was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash.
Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California's notorious traffic. Even as a player, he often travelled to practices and games by helicopter, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his business ventures.
The NTSB sent a “go team” of investigators to the site. NTSB generally issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned.
The Sikorsky S-76 “is generally regarded as a good helicopter with a good safety record,” said Gary C. Robb, an aviation attorney in Kansas City who wrote a textbook on helicopter crash litigation. “But parts fail, parts break. Anything can happen.”
The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks, California.