Kobe Bryant's Death Confirmed by ESPN Following Helicopter Crash

Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, a source confirmed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Los Angeles Lakers legend's death was first reported by TMZ, but Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials did not immediately confirm the identity of the victims. None of the five people on the helicopter survived the crash, officials said. Bryant was 41.

The helicopter crash happened before 10 a.m. local time near Las Virgenes Road, south of Agoura Road, the Los Angeles Times reports. There were foggy conditions at the time of the crash.

When the flying vehicle hit the hills, it burst into flames, causing a small brushfire. Firefighters needed to contain the fire before they could reach the wreck.

Bryant's wife Vanessa was reportedly not on the helicopter. The identity of the four other victims has not been reported. Vanessa and Bryant have four daughters, Diana, Natalia, Bianca and Capri.

Bryant's sudden death came just a day after LeBron James passed him on the NBA's all-time scoring list during the Lakers' game against the Philadelphia 76ers. James wrote "Mamba 4 Life" and "8/24 KB" on his cleats in honor of the legend.

"It's another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school," James told ESPN. "Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow."

"Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation," James continued. "He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it's very humbling and it's dope."

Bryant's final tweet was published just hours after the Lakers game, and was a message to James.

"Continuing to move the game forward [James]. Much respect my brother," Bryant wrote.

Bryant joined the NBA right out of high school and was the youngest player in NBA history in 1996. He won two Olympic gold medals while playing for the U.S. and won five NBA Championships with the Lakers. He spent his entire two-decade career with the Lakers, who retired his numbers 8 and 24 immediately after he retired. Bryant played his final game in April 2016.


Photo credit: Getty Images