Former NBA star Kobe Bryant was among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. According to TMZ, which was the first to report the news, the 41-year-old Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter caught on fire and went down at around 10 a.m. TMZ and ESPN are also reporting that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was among those killed in the crash.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times that a brush fire broke out at the crash site, which made it difficult for emergency personnel to respond. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office reported that no passengers survived. Although initial reports indicated that five people died in the crash, the sheriff said in a press conference on Sunday afternoon that nine people were killed—eight passengers and the pilot.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown, but the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Bryant played with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years. He retired in 2016 after making 18 All-Star games and winning five championships and two Olympic gold medals. He was known for using a private helicopter to travel from Newport Beach to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles while he played for the Lakers.
In 2003, Bryant was arrested on allegations of sexual assault. Prosecutors dropped the charges a year later, saying his accuser was unwilling to testify. After the charges were dropped, Bryant apologized to the alleged victim, saying in part, “I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.” In 2005, Bryant and his accuser settled her civil lawsuit; terms of that settlement were undisclosed.
While Bryant’s reputation took a major hit in the years surrounding the sexual assault allegation, it was mostly forgotten as he became an NBA elder statesman and retiree. In 2018, he won an Oscar for the animated short “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he’d published in the Players’ Tribune. On Saturday night, he was in Philadelphia to watch LeBron James surpass him for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
This post is about a breaking news story and is being updated as more facts become known.