TMZ has reported that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas this morning. He was 41 years old. Kobe is believed to have been traveling with at least 4 other passengers in his private helicopter when it went down after fire reportedly broke out. It has been reported that emergency personnel responded to the crash but there were no survivors. It is not believed that Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not on board. This is a sad day for the NBA.
Kobe Bryant was piloting his private helicopter when the fire broke out. However, it is unclear how the fire started or for how long the helicopter was in the air at this time. Bryant has flown his own helicopter for years now, dating back to when he was on the Los Angeles Lakers. He would take the Sikorsky S-76 chopper from his residence in Newport Beach, California to the STAPLES Center in DTLA.
Kobe Bryant starred for two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships along the way. He made it to 18 All-Star Games before retiring in 2016 and is largely considered to be one of the best players in NBA history. Bryant was born August 23rd, 1978 and is the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He was a successful high school basketball player at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, which is where he was later recognized to be the top high school basketball player in the country. After graduation, he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets during the 1996 NBA draft as the 13th overall pick. The Hornets then traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he made history.
It didn't take Kobe Bryant long to find success in the NBA. He quickly became a fan-favorite player, known early on for his high flying abilities. He was an All-Star by his second season and then it was on to greatness and friction with Shaquille O'Neal and the rest of the Lakers. The team ended up winning the NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 as a result of this friction and the expert wisdom of former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson. Bryant was young and full of ego at the time, which he freely admitted upon looking back years later.
Kobe Bryant was the league MVP in 2008 and led the NBA in scoring during two seasons. He currently ranks fourth on the league's all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. Bryant is also the first guard in NBA history to play for at least 20 seasons. Bryant was active outside of the NBA and made appearances on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy series All That in 2000 and MTV's Ridiculousness in 2019. He is also known for his philanthropy. Bryant was an official ambassador for After-School All-Stars (ASAS), which is an American non-profit organization that provides after-school programs to children. Bryant is survived by his wife his wife Vanessa, along with daughters Gianna, Natalia, Bianca, and Capri. TMZ was the first to report the news.