A helicopter crash took the life of legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant, regarded by many as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore, and several other people—not yet identified at press time—lost their lives in a helicopter crash this foggy Sunday morning on the hillsides outside Calabasas, California, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
A man who witnessed the crash and was interviewed by the newspaper said he heard the helicopter overhead while he was setting up the sound system at Church of the Canyon, located below the crash site. He said he knew something was wrong when the helicopter hovered very low as if trying to land. Then, at about 9:44 a.m., the man heard the boom of the crasg. “I don’t think it pancaked,” he said. “I think it hit rotors first.”
Another news story reported that at the time of the accident Bryant and his daughter—nicknamed Gigi— were on their way to his Mamba Sports Academy for a basketball practice session.
Athletes who played against Bryant, such as Paul Pierce, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne Wade, Scottie Pippen; celebrities, such as Viola Davis, Drake and Ellen DeGeneres, who followed Bryant’s career through their love of the sport; and politicians, such as former President Barack Obama, sent messages on social media memorializing the 6-foot-6 shooting guard who was born in Philadelphia.
This is not real right now— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 26, 2020
My heart goes out to Vanessa. Completely devastating. I know how much he LOVED his family and children! Just devastating.... God bless Kobe and Gianna and family. Heartbroken! pic.twitter.com/K4689SUxrx— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 26, 2020
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant 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 pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Rest In Power. pic.twitter.com/JxRNWiS611— Sho’Nuff Skywalker (@BreakandEnterTV) January 26, 2020
On Saturday night, LeBron James surpassed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list; James is now third on the list, while Bryant is fourth.
Bryant was an all-star 18 times, a member of the all-NBA team 15 times, a 12-time member of the all-defensive team and, in 2008, was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. He spent his entire 20-year career playing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court—and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius and ambassador for the game he loved,” said L.A.’s mayor Eric Garcetti in a news statement. “He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”
Through the years, Bryant revealed himself to be a flawed hero who expressed remorse publicly for a number of questionable decisions he made on and off the court. Doubtless his legend will be large enough to overshadow these lapses in judgment that were also a part of his life.