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Kobe Bryant killed in copter crash

 

January 26, 2020

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/TNS

Kobe Bryant played for five NBA champions and was an 18-time All-Star.

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant and his daughter are among nine dead in a helicopter crash Sunday morning near Los Angeles, multiple local and national media outlets have confirmed.

Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, when the helicopter they were in crashed Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif., according to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, another player and parent were among the passengers.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people died in the crash, after the department tweeted there were five confirmed deceased in the crash that left no survivors.

Villanueva did not officially identify the victims pending a notification of next of kin.

Kobe Bryant, 41, spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers.

His death stunned Los Angeles and the sports world, which mourned one of basketball's greatest players. Sources said the helicopter took off from Orange County, where Bryant lived.

Bryant excelled at Lower Merion High in Ardmore, Pa., near Philadelphia, winning numerous national awards as a senior before announcing his intention to skip college and enter the NBA draft. He was selected 13th overall by Charlotte in 1996, but the Lakers had already worked out a deal with the Hornets to acquire Bryant before his selection. Bryant impressed Lakers General Manager Jerry West during a pre-draft workout session in Los Angeles. Less than three weeks later, the Lakers traded starting center Vlade Divac to the Hornets in exchange for Bryant's rights. Bryant, whose favorite team growing up was the Lakers, had to have his parents co-sign his NBA contract because he was 17 years old.

The 6-foot-6 guard made his pro debut in the 1996-97 season opener against Minnesota; at the time he was the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game. He started in only a handful of games during his rookie season, coming off the bench in support of Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones. However, coach Del Harris played him more as the season progressed, allowing Bryant to showcase the skills that made him a top candidate for rookie of the year. Those skills were also on display when Bryant won the 1997 NBA slam dunk competition.

Bryant continued to improve during his sophomore season in the league, averaging 15.4 points per game. However, his breakout came in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season when he started in all 50 games after the Lakers traded away Van Exel and Jones.

Bryant and leading scorer Shaquille O'Neal quickly morphed into one of the most lethal scoring and defensive combinations in the league.

Together, with coach Phil Jackson guiding them, they led the Lakers to three consecutive championships (2000-02) as Bryant began to cement his place as the game's top player.

After his retirement from the NBA, Bryant began a new career in Hollywood.

In 2018, he won an Oscar along with director Glen Keane for the animated short film "Dear Basketball."

On Saturday night, Laker LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

The crash ignited a brush fire and made it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the aircraft, officials said.

The fire was contained to the crash site. There were no homes in the area, and no roadways were impacted.

 
 

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