Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif.
The Federal Aviation Administration said a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed Sunday morning under unknown circumstances in Calabasas, a city of 23,000 people about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport at 9:06 a.m. PST, according to flight records. The Los Angeles Times reported the crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. PST near Las Virgenes Road.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department initially said five people were on board and none survived. But Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people died in the crash though he didn't officially identify the victims saying it was "entirely inappropriate" to do so until the coroner made the identification to next of kin.
TMZ first reported Bryant, 41, was on the helicopter.
College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, a player on Bryant's basketball team at Mamba Sports Academy, were also killed. Orange Coast College, where John Altobelli coached, confirmed the deaths in a statement Sunday night.
Also killed was Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar in Orange County. Tijuana Dogs drummer Matt Mauser confirmed the death of his wife on Facebook.
The other three fatalities, including the pilot, were not identified.
ESPN and NBC News reported Bryant and his daughter were headed to Mamba Sports Academy, a facility that Bryant created and coached at, for a girls basketball game. Bryant coached Gianna's team, the Los Angeles Lady Mambas.
"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "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: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability."
The crash comes a day after Bryant was passed by Lakers star LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant, who scored 33,643 points, was active on social media Saturday night, congratulating James on the feat.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom paid tribute to Bryant with a post on social media Sunday afternoon. President Donald Trump also sent out a tweet, calling Bryant "one of the truly great basketball players of all time."
Bryant, an 18-time All-Star, was drafted in the first round (No. 13 overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa. He spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers and won five NBA championships.
Bryant averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game in his career. He was a two-time NBA Finals MVP and was named the league's Most Valuable Player in 2008.
Bryant announced his intent to retire from the league on Nov. 29, 2015, which launched a farewell tour around the NBA. He played in 66 matchups that season with the Lakers, averaging 17.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
In his final professional game, Bryant scored 60 points and led the Lakers past the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016. He is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020.
A moment of silence was held before Sunday's game between the Houston Rockets and Nuggets in Denver, the first game of the day. Later Sunday, multiple NBA teams paid tribute to Bryant by committing 24-second shot clock violations and 8-second violations, honoring his famous jersey numbers.
Bryant married Vanessa Laine Bryant in 2001. The couple had four daughters together, aged 17, 13, three and seven months. They welcomed their fourth daughter, Capri Kobe Bryant, last June.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © UPI, 2021. All Rights Reserved.