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NBA Star Kobe Bryant Dead at 41: 15 Heartbreaking Photos

Kobe Bean Bryant was an American professional basketball player. A shooting guard, Bryant played his entire 20-season career in the National Basketball Association with the Los Angeles Lakers. He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships. On Sunday, shocking news emerged that a helicopter carrying basketball legend Kobe Bryant had crashed into a hill in southern California. In the hours following the crash, it was confirmed that among the 9 passengers who lost their lives was the athlete’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.  The passengers were on the way to Bryant’s youth basketball academy. It was later revealed that the rest of the passengers onboard were Gianna’s teammate Alyssa Altobelli, her parents John and Keri Altobelli, basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan.

Since news of the fatal accident spread, many celebrities and public figures have been posting tributes to Bryant’s career and legacy, as well as expressing condolences to the families of the passengers, including Bryant’s wife Vanessa and three other daughters.

NBA Star Kobe Bryant Dead at 41: 15 Heartbreaking Photos

At 9:06 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, with nine people aboard: Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna (Gigi), Gigi's peers and their parents (including Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton),[459] basketball coach Christina Mauser, and the pilot Ara Zobayan. The helicopter was registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California Secretary of State business database. The group was travelling to Bryant's Mamba Academy for a practice session when the helicopter crashed in Calabasas.

State of Illinois N76ILL S-76 Helicopter

Due to light rain and foggy weather that morning, the LAPD helicopters and most other air traffic were grounded. The flight tracker shows that the helicopter experienced issues while above the L.A. Zoo. The helicopter circled the area six times at an altitude of around 850 feet (260 m).

At 9:30 a.m. the pilot Ara Zobayan contacted the Burbank Airport's control tower, notifying the tower of the situation and was told he was "flying too low". At that time, the helicopter experienced extreme fog and turned south towards the mountains. At 9:40 a.m. the helicopter climbed in altitude from 1,200 to 2,000 feet (370 to 610 m) flying at 161 knots (298 km/h; 185 mph).

At 9:45 a.m. the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and caught on fire. This also started a 1/4-acre bush fire. At 9:47 a.m. authorities were called. The helicopter had passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight.

Personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire Department attended the scene, and paramedics rappelled from a helicopter to the scene to look for survivors. The fire was difficult to extinguish due to the presence of magnesium, but the fire had been extinguished by 10:30 a.m. None of the nine occupants survived. Initial reports indicated that the helicopter crashed in the hills above Calabasas in heavy fog. Witnesses reported hearing a helicopter struggling before crashing.

The Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, and the FBI have launched investigations into the crash.

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

Gianna, Bryant’s second-oldest daughter, was set to play in a youth basketball tournament on the day of the crash, with her team coached by her famous father. He often posted videos from her practices on his Instagram. In 2018, he told Jimmy Kimmel that she was proud to be his heir, responding to a fan’s comment that he should have a son to carry on his legacy with “I got this. You don’t need no boy for that!” The basketball department of the University of Connecticut, for which the teenager had aspired to play one day, also posted a message of condolences to the Bryant family on Twitter.

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant

People are looking back on pictures of Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant


People speak out about Bryant’s death


At 11:24 a.m., less than two hours after the crash, TMZ was the first news source to confirm Bryant's death. TMZ was later criticized at a local law enforcement press conference for reporting the story before the local law enforcement had the opportunity for the coroner's office to confirm the identity of occupants and officially inform families. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, stated, "It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one had perished and you learn [that] through TMZ."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement:

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna ... For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. 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 special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."









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