Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter have died in a helicopter crash.
The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers legend passed away on Sunday morning (January 26, 2020) in Calabasas, California on his way to his daughter Gianna’s basketball game.
One of her teammates and another parent also perished.
Federal Aviation Administration officials have confirmed the helicopter that crashed under “unknown circumstances” belonged to Kobe. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianca, and baby Capri, are not believed to be among the victims of the tragedy.
Ironically, his death comes a day after LeBron James replaced him as the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
James paid tribute to Bryant with special Nike shoes during the Lakers game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
After the game, Bryant congratulated James on his latest milestone, tweeting: “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next… Much respect my brother.”
Bryant spent his entire professional career playing for the Lakers and retired in 2016. Kobe then turned his attentions to Hollywood and won an Academy Award in 2018 for his short film Dear Basketball.
During his sports career, Bryant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. He also won two gold medals as a member of the USA Men’s Basketball team at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.
He was considered among the five greatest basketball players of all time. The 18-time NBA All-Star won five championships with the Lakers.
Bryant skipped college after becoming a sports phenomenon at Lower Merion High in Pennsylvania and joined the Lakers, aged 17, in 1996 after a deal with the Charlotte Hornets, who selected him in the NBA Draft.
He made his professional debut in the Lakers‘ 1996-97 season opener against Minnesota, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game.
The Toronto Rockets paid tribute to Kobe before their NBA game with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon by staging a minute’s silence, while fans have gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Kobe played for 20 years, for a hastily organized memorial.