Los Angeles, Jan 27 (IANS) Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant was one of nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas of southern California on Sunday.
“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” the City of Calabasas confirmed on its official Twitter account, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend, five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star died at the age of 41.
The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10 a.m. Nobody on the ground was hurt, the city tweeted.
At a press briefing Sunday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that nine people were aboard the crashed helicopter – a pilot and eight passengers.
The Sheriff did not identify anyone on the flight, saying it was entirely “inappropriate” to do so at this time until the coroner made the identification to the next of kin.
TMZ first broke the tragic news, saying Bryant was travelling with at least three other people in his private helicopter when it went down.
According to a report, Bryant’s daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, was also on board and died. Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the helicopter crash, the FAA said in a statement.
“A S-76 helicopter crashed this morning under unknown circumstances near Calabasas, Calif. Local authorities say that five people were on board. Please check with local authorities for more information on the condition of the occupants,” the FAA said in its statement.
“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,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted.
“He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief,” Garcetti said.
The Grammy Awards are set to be held later Sunday at Staples Center, where Bryant played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. During the pre-telecast for the Grammy Awards, a moment of silence was held for Bryant.
NBA athletes, officials and fans mourned the loss of Bryant, who was considered one of basketball’s greatest players of all time.
On Saturday night, Bryant tweeted his congratulations to LeBron James after he surpassed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street at around 10 a.m., the department tweeted. Flames that erupted in the crash have been extinguished.