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NBA legend Kobe Bryant, daughter among nine dead after helicopter crash in California

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter are among at least nine people that were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash on a hillside in Calabasas, Califor...
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NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter are among at least nine people that were killed Sunday in a helicopter crash on a hillside in Calabasas, California.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s department received reports of the downed aircraft just after 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m PT), officials said in a tweet.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrenda said he didn’t immediately have any information about whether the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter radioed a distress signal.

“Individuals that saw the aircraft said it was coming down at a fairly significant rate of speed and impacted the ground on the hillside,” he told reporters.

Imbrenda said he didn’t know where the helicopter came from or where it was headed.

According to a manifest, nine people — including the pilot — were on board the helicopter.

Pictures taken shortly after the crash showed fog in the area. Sunday morning’s weather also included light wind and temperatures in the mid-50s.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, the FAA said in a tweet.

Bryant, 41, was reportedly in his private helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore-Bryant, when it crashed.

Tony Altobelli told CNN his brother, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56; John’s daughter Alyssa and wife Keri were killed in the crash. Altobelli was a former assistant baseball coach at the University of Houston, the school said.

Alyssa and Gianna were teammates, Tony Altobelli said.

Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar, California, was killed in the crash, her husband Matt Mauser, wrote on his Facebook page.

“My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash,” he wrote.

The occupants of the helicopter were expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for noon Sunday. Gianna was expected to play in the game and Bryant was expected to coach, according to Lady Mavericks team director Evelyn Morales.

Just last month, this video of Bryant and Gianna at a basketball game made its rounds on social media:

He leaves behind his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters. His oldest daughter turned 17 a week ago; his youngest daughter is 7 months old.

Bryant was born on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, gave him the namesake after seeing a type of steak on a restaurant menu. Kobe beef is from a species of cattle, Wagyu, raised in the Kobe region of Japan.

He lived in Italy from the age of six to 13 while his father played professional basketball, and he spoke Italian fluently. In one of his final interviews before he died, Bryant told CNN how he developed a love of soccer in Italy but also witnessed racism before moving back to the United States.

“When I was growing up in Italy, I’ve obviously witnessed it firsthand going to certain soccer matches and things of that nature,” Bryant told CNN’s Andy Scholes. “My parents have taught me and educated me on how to deal with those sorts of things.”

Bryant played high school basketball at Lower Merion in Pennsylvania.

“This is a difficult day for everyone in our school community,” said Amy Buckman, a spokeswoman for Lower Merion School District.

“Mr. Bryant’s connection to Lower Merion High School, where he played basketball prior to joining the NBA, has raised the profile of our high school and our district throughout the world. Our school community will always be grateful for his ongoing generosity to his alma mater, including his dedication of our Kobe Bryant gymnasium and his support of our girls and boys basketball teams.”

Bryant went straight from high school to the NBA, drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick of the 1996 draft, making him the youngest NBA player in history at age 17. Bryant was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for veteran center Vlade Divac.

That trade sealed the fate of both Bryant and the Lakers, as both he and the team went on to win five championships over his tenure with the team. He also helped Team USA win two Gold Medals at the Olympics.

An 18-time All-Star, Bryant was known as one of the most lethal scorers in NBA history.

He finished as the league’s third highest all-time leading scorer, with 33,643.

On Saturday night, Lakers F Lebron James passed Bryant on the league’s all-time scoring list during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” Bryant tweeted Saturday night.

Here’s what James had to say about Bryant after the game:

Mourning Kobe

An outpouring of disbelief and grief hit social media in the wake of Bryant’s death:

Former Lakers legends and NBA greats also weighed in:

During the telecast of the NFL’s Pro Bowl on Sunday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees offered a few words on Bryant’s passing:

The Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets held a moment of silence for Bryant on Sunday afternoon, in one of the first games scheduled after his death:

On the court Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks held a moment of silence as a tribute to Bryant before their game against the Washington Wizards. Following the moment of silence, Hawks guard Trae Young started the game wearing a No. 8 jersey to honor Bryant, then switched back to his No. 11.

On the opening possession, the Hawks took an 8-second backcourt violation and the Wizards followed by taking a 24-second shot clock violation.

Bryant wore both No. 8 and No. 24 in his NBA career.

In his final game in April 2016, he scored 60 points.

Bryant tweeted this after his final appearance in the NBA:

Off the court his dazzling smile sold everything from Nike shoes to McDonald’s hamburgers.

There was controversy, however, when Bryant was accused of sexual assaulting a 19-year-old Colorado hotel worker in 2003. Bryant insisted the encounter was consensual. The criminal sexual assault charge was dropped in 2004, and the accuser agreed to settle her civil lawsuit against Bryant in 2005.

A love of helicopters

Ten years ago, GQ Magazine wrote about how Bryant regularly took his own helicopter to work:

“He takes a private helicopter from Orange County, where he lives with his wife and two children, to every home game. It’s a nice dash of glitz, a touch of showbiz (but) Bryant says the helicopter is just another tool for maintaining his body. It’s no different than his weights or his whirlpool tubs or his custom-made Nikes.

“Given his broken finger, his fragile knees, his sore back and achy feet, not to mention his chronic agita, Bryant can’t sit in a car for two hours. The helicopter, therefore, ensures that he gets to Staples Center feeling fresh, that his body is warm and loose and fluid as mercury when he steps onto the court.”

The chopper was adorned with his logo.


The Lakers were set to play host to the Los Angeles Clippers in the team’s next game at the Staples Center on Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. E.T.

On Monday night, the NBA postponed that game due to the crash.