Basketball legend Kobe Bryant is among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in the wealthy Southern California residential neighborhood of Calabasas.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant was also killed. There were no survivors, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. The sheriff’s department received reports of the downed aircraft just after 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m PT).
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant had been expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for Sunday. Gianna was expected to play in the game and Bryant was expected to coach.
The names of the other victims, which includes six additional passengers and the pilot, will not be publicly identified until next-of-kin are notified, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.
Calabasas is about 30 miles west of Los Angeles.
The Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances, says a spokesperson from the National Transportation Safety Board. Firefighters worked to contain the quarter-acre brush fire that resulted, which was difficult to extinguish due to the presence of magnesium, which reacts to oxygen and water.
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 and Gianna were teammates.
LA County Fire Department Capt. Tony Imbrenda said he didn’t immediately have any information about whether the Sikorsky S-76B 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.”
Fans flocked to the scene of the crash, the Staples Center and the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at the Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, where Bryant played basketball prior to being drafted, to mourn the fallen NBA star.
He was drafted to the NBA out of high school in 1996 and spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships. He was awarded NBA MVP in 2008 and NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010.
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant was drafted to the NBA straight out of Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia in 1996. He was the youngest player in NBA history at that time, at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days. Bryant played his entire professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five NBA championships. Bryant has two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball. Bryant retired in April 2016.
He showed us he was a one of a kind athlete and he will never be forgotten by his fans nor his family. An entire nation is crippled and absolutely devastated at this tragic news, our hearts go out to the families effected by the accident.