Kobe Bryant and four others were killed when his private helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
Kobe Bryant, 41, the legendary basketball star who spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed and burst into flames Sunday morning amid foggy conditions in the hills above Calabasas, sources told the Los Angeles Times.
Bryant’s death stunned Los Angeles and the sports world, which mourned one of basketball’s greatest players. Sources said the helicopter took off from Orange County, where Bryant lived.
The crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. near Las Virgenes Road, south of Agoura Road, according to a watch commander for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Four others on board also died.
Bryant was in Philadelphia last night to watch LeBron James pass him for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. James set the record in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 108-91 loss to the 76ers, scoring 33,655 points in his career. Bryant, who retired in 2016 after spending his career with the Lakers, scored 33,643 points.
Bryant was born in Philadelphia. His father, Joe, played eight NBA seasons in the ‘70s and ‘80s for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and, in his last stop, the Houston Rockets under then-coach Del Harris. A light-hearted, 6-10 string bean who went by his Philadelphia playground nickname, “Jellybean,” Joe Bryant played college ball at La Salle and married Pam Cox, the sister of a starting guard at Villanova. They named their first son Kobe, after the city in Japan.
The 6-foot-6 guard made his pro debut in the 1996-97 season opener against Minnesota; at the time he was the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game. He started in only a handful of games during his rookie season, coming off the bench in support of Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones.
Kobe Bryant was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash, as first reported by TMZ and confirmed by @wojespn.
He was 41. pic.twitter.com/jt4ccu2Rw4
— ESPN (@espn) January 26, 2020
However, coach Del Harris played him more as the season progressed, allowing Bryant to showcase the skills that made him a top candidate for rookie of the year. Those skills were also on display when Bryant won the 1997 NBA slam dunk competition.
Bryant continued to improve during his sophomore season in the league, averaging 15.4 points per game. However, his breakout came in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season when he started in all 50 games after the Lakers traded away Van Exel and Jones.