/NBA legend Kobe Bryant dead in LA-area helicopter crash

NBA legend Kobe Bryant dead in LA-area helicopter crash

Former Los Angeles Laker and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area. Four other people were also killed.

A call for a downed helicopter in Calabasas went out at 10:01 a.m. local time, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. People who were out mountain biking in the area reported the accident.

David Shapiro, a former mayor of Calabasas and currently a city councilman, confirmed to NBC News that Bryant was on the helicopter.

“Unfortunately there were no survivors,” Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda told reporters Sunday.

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On Saturday night, Bryant tweeted his congratulations to LeBron James after he surpassed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Bryant told GQ in 2010 that he would take a private helicopter from his Orange County home to every home game he played at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots a free-throw in 2010.Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images file

County officials said firefighters were able to extinguish the flames and are working to preserve evidence for investigators.

NBA athletes, officials and fans mourned the loss of Bryant, who was considered one of basketball’s greatest players of all time.

“May your memory be a blessing,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted.

Retired forward Paul Pierce expressed his disbelief on Twitter, saying, “This is not real right now.”

The Los Angeles Police Department alerted fans who wished to mourn at the Lakers arena that they would be unable to access the Staples Center as the Recording Academy was hosting the Grammys at the venue Sunday evening.

Bryant was one of the most influential basketball players of the late 1990s and early 21st century, racking up astronomical scoring totals while also playing elite defense over a 20-season career that ended in 2016.

He was the son of long-time professional basketball player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and Houston Rockets. The elder Bryant also had a lengthy career playing in Italy.

Bryant attended Lower Merion High School just outside of Philadelphia and was drafted directly into the league. He took R&B superstar Brandy Norwood to his 1996 prom.

He played in 15 All-Star Games, was MVP of four of those games, was the 2008 league MVP and was twice the NBA Finals MVP.

David K. Li contributed.

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