Kobe Bryant, Daughter Dead in Helicopter Crash

Bryant was 41 years old, his daughter 13
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2020 2:15 PM CST
Updated Jan 26, 2020 3:41 PM CST
Kobe Bryant Dead in Helicopter Crash
In this July 26, 2018, file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the US national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)

(Newser) – Legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant and one of his daughters died in a helicopter crash Sunday in the hills of Calabasas, Calif., TMZ reports. Officials say seven others perished when the helicopter went down in flames, killing all on board. Bryant's daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, was only 13; Bryant's wife Vanessa was apparently not on board. Among the deceased are "another player and parent," per ESPN, and college baseball coach John Altobelli. Witnesses say Bryant's private helicopter sputtered in the air and hit the ground with an explosion: "It [didn't] sound right and it was real low," bystander Jerry Kocharian tells the LA Times. "I saw it falling and spluttering. But it was hard to make out as it was so foggy." The helicopter then disappeared into fog before the blast.

"There was a big fireball," adds Kocharian. "No one could survive that." The Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, built in 1991, left John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana at 9:06am; Kobe and his daughter were apparently going to the Mamba Academy in Thousands Oaks for basketball practice. A memorial to Bryant has already appeared outside the Staples Center, where he played in many games, and people are assembling at a park near the crash site. "I've been watching him since I was a kid," a Lakers fan tells the New York Times. "My stomach just hurts." Bryant, 41, won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and was fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, with 33,643 points. He retired in 2016. He is survived by his wife, 37, and three other daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianca, 3, and 7-month-old Capri. (Read more Kobe Bryant stories.)

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