US basketball player Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash


Former basketball player and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has been killed in a helicopter crash in California, at the age of 41.

The crash happened in Calabasas, California at around 10am local time (6pm GMT), killing all five people on board.

“Five people confirmed deceased, no survivors in #Calabasas helicopter crash. #LASD #Malibu deputies remain with #LA County Fire personnel. Investigation ongoing,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department tweeted.

City of Calabasas officials says the helicopter went down in a remote field, but nobody on the ground was hurt.

It is unclear if any of Bryant’s family members were on board the helicopter.

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Bryant is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time and played for the Los Angeles Lakers throughout his 20-year NBA career before retiring in 2016.

He was the third-leading scorer in NBA history when he retired and held that spot up until Saturday night when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.

“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”

James told after the game: “I’m just happy to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats to ever play.”

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Bryant won two Olympic gold medals, was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and was Finals MVP on two occasions and an 18-time All-Star.

When he announced his plans to retire in 2015, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Bryant “one of the greatest players in the history of our game.”

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 Lakers.

The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s shirt numbers – eight and 24 – in a ceremony in December 2017, when then franchise president Magic Johnson said: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who has ever worn the purple and gold.”


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