American basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, has been killed in a helicopter crash, along with his teenage daughter.
The 41-year-old died after the aircraft came down in California on Sunday morning, the City of Calabasas said in a tweet.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also on the helicopter, it is reported.
In a news conference on Sunday, authorities said nine people were on board and there were no survivors.
The City of Calabasas posted: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
One eyewitness has said: “This news is so shocking.
“I heard a helicopter and it just sounded very loud, like it was flying too low, and then I heard a loud thud and then you just hear nothing like a helicopter passed over us first and then crashed, so I didn’t hear the initial crash but I heard a helicopter flying too low”.
Bryant, who was born in Philadelphia in 1978, was drafted at number 13 by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 18-time NBA All-Star won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career spent entirely with the Lakers.
They retired both of his shirt numbers – eight and 24 – in a ceremony in December 2017.
Then-franchise president Magic Johnson said: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who has ever worn the purple and gold.”
He tweeted on Sunday that “the game of basketball and our city will never be the same without Kobe”.
Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all-time, said
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling.
“I loved Kobe – he was like a brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.
“Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.”
Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history and held that spot until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.
In his last tweet, Bryant said: “Continuing to move the game forward (at) KingJames. Much respect my brother”.
Bryant was known to use a helicopter for travel dating to his days as a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers, when he commuted to games in a Sikorsky S-76 chopper, the celebrity news website TMZ said.
The US Federal Aviation Administration identified the crashed helicopter as a Sikorsky S-76, saying in a statement that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate.
Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the No. 24 during his 20-year career with the team.
Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, have four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and Capri, who was born in June 2019. – Sky News.