Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar and later an Oscar-Winning Filmmaker, died Sunday in a helicopter crash. He was 41.
At about 10 am, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office received reports of a downed aircraft at Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street in Calabasas. Deputies responded to the scene to later confirm that the downed aircraft was a Sikorsky S-76B Helicopter and that all persons on board the helicopter had died. Later reports that have been confirmed by TMZ and Variety, which have cited officials confirmed that Kobe Bryant was on board. Among the victims is reported to be Bryant’s oldest daughter, Gianna, 13, her teammate, her teammate’s parent and the pilot as they we’re reportedly on the way to a basketball game.
Kobe Bryant was born in 1978 in Philadelphia, PA and attended Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA. Bryant received several awards for his performance during his senior year at Lower Merion, including Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year, first-team Parade All-American and a USA Today All-USA First Team player.
At the age of 17, Kobe Bryant was selected in the 1996 NBA Draft right out of High School is the 6th person in NBA History to do such. He was initially picked for the Hornets in an agreement with the Lakers to trade the draft pick with their center at the time Vlade Divac to free up some of the Salary Cap space for the Lakers to make an offer to the free-agent center Shaquille O’Neal.
Over Kobe’s 20 year tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was their shooting guard. Throughout his time with the Lakers, he won five NBA championships. He was also an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive team, and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2008. At the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics, he won gold medals as a member of the U.S. national basketball team.
Before it was closed at Universal Orlando Citywalk in 2015, Bryant’s handprint was including on a molded basketball with some of the NBA’s biggest stars (including Shaquille O’Neal.)
After the NBA, he became an Oscar winner when he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball. His Oscar win was historic as He was the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Oscar in any category.
He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters – Natalia and Bianca and Capri.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation and Safety Board are investigating the cause of this crash.
UPDATE 2:40PM: As per the LA County Sheriffs Office, they believe as per the passenger manifest that 9 people – 8 passengers and the pilot died in the crash.
Stay Tuned for more as this is a developing story.