Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter killed in helicopter crash

By Zach Harper

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan. 26.

News of the fatal crash in which the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers star passed away was first reported by TMZ. It was later confirmed to CNN, ESPN and the Associated Press, with The New York Times reporting Gianna, 13, had also died in the crash.

CNN reports the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said there were no survivors in the crash, which took place just after 10 a.m. PST.

Vanessa Bryant, the five-time NBA champion's wife, was not on board, TMZ reported.

Kobe and Gianna were seen taking in a Lakers game on Dec. 29. Photo: © Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

NBA Commissioner and CEO Adam Silver confirmed the deaths of the star and his daughter, saying the "NBA family" was "devastated."

"For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning," he said, according to People. "He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary... But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking a special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."

Sports legends took to Twitter to express their grief.

Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe's longtime teammate, shared his anguish at his friend's passing on Twitter.

"There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of [losing] my [niece] Gigi & my brother @kobebryant," he wrote. "I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW."

"Janet and I have no words to describe our shock and sadness on the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant today," Wayne Gretzky tweeted. "Praying for him and his family."

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe and Gianna's passing," Michael Jordan said in a statement. "Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved Kobe. He was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply - and took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball."

Investigators were seen at the crash on Jan. 26. Photo: © David McNew/Getty Images

Magic Johnson also took to Twitter to share his distress at the news.

"As I try to write this post, my mind is racing," he said. "I'm in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi, have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken."

The news comes just as LeBron James passed Kobe in all-time scoring. Kobe congratulated LeBron with a lovely, personal tweet earlier in the day.

"Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames," he wrote. "Much respect, my brother."

Kobe became the youngest player in NBA history when he entered the league straight out of high school in 1996. He had scored a whopping 33,643 points throughout his career, which he spent entirely with the Lakers before retiring in 2016. In addition to his five NBA championships, Kobe also won two Olympic gold medals through competing at 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

He married Vanessa in 2001, and they welcomed four daughters together. His youngest child, Capri, was born just last year.

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