Lakers legend, 5x NBA champion, father and husband Kobe Bryant has passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas California, according to reports by TMZ Sports. Bryant was among the nine people traveling in the private helicopter that he frequently used for travel when a fire broke out, sending the helicopter down. Bryant was 41.
An investigation is ongoing, however the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter there "were no survivors."
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, was not among those aboard the chopper. However, Bryant's 13-year old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore, was also on board and died in the crash. Other passengers included baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, and elementary school basketball coach, Cristina Mauser.
One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant's career spanned over 20 years during which he became an 18-time All-Star champion, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, received two NBA Finals MVP honors, and was named league MVP in 2008. Bryant, also known by his moniker the Black Mamba, retired from basketball in 2016 after which he remained active in the world of basketball and later film, winning an Academy Award in 2018 for his film "Dear Basketball." Bryant was scheduled to headline the N.B.A. Hall of Fame nominees later this year.
In a statement to The New York Times, California's governor Gavin Newsom, and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, said, “In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he made history with raw talent and unparalleled dedication that raised the bar and paved the way for a newer generation of players. He was taken too soon and he will be missed.”
In 2015, Bryant featured on the cover of Highsnobiety's 10th-anniversary print issue. “I’ve been very lucky [that I] started playing the game at six. First passions are easy,” Bryant told reporter Alec Banks. “I love telling stories that move and inspire people.”
“Inevitably, there will be a tribute for Kobe outside the Staples Center, matching Michael Jordan’s The Spirit in front of Chicago’s United Center,” wrote Banks in his cover story. “A quote from the film, A River Runs Through It, accompanies Jordan’s piece, which reads, 'At that moment I knew, surely and clearly, that I was witnessing perfection. He stood before us, suspended above the Earth, free from all its laws like a work of art, and I knew, just as surely and clearly, that life is not a work of art, and that the moment could not last.' Bryant seems comfortable acknowledging that an artistic tribute will accompany his retirement – whenever that may be.” To which Bryant responded, “There’s a great photo that Andy Bernstein captured when I was checking out of the game after scoring 81 points – walking out with my finger raised up. I think that pose is probably it.”