Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar who won five championships with the team and was often compared to the legendary Michael Jordan, died Sunday in a helicopter crash. He was 41.
Officials confirm to Variety that Bryant was a passenger on board a helicopter that crashed in the L.A. Country suburb of Calabasas.
TMZ first reported the news.
Bryant was allegedly traveling in his own private helicopter when it crashed. Four other people were killed.
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fatal crash.
An 18-time NBA All-Star, Bryant was widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. He was voted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and went on to win two gold medals with the USA Men’s Basketball team in 2008 and 2012.
Bryant’s highest scoring total for a single game came in 2002 when he put up 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Only Wilt Chamberlain, at 100 points, had a bigger single-game in NBA history.
Despite all of the “Ko-Be!” chants and on-court accolades, Bryant was no stranger to controversy. In 2003, he was accused of sexually assaulting a women in a Colorado hotel room. The case was dropped the next year and Bryant issued a famous apology alongside his wife, Vanessa. “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” he said.
After retiring from the NBA in 2016, Bryant launched a production company, Granity, which focused on projects that blended both sports and entertainment. He would later win an Academy Award in 2018 for his short film, “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he wrote before he said goodbye to the NBA.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters – Natalia and Bianca and Capri.