By Frederick H. Lowe
Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and Gianna, his 13-year old daughter, were among nine people killed today in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.
Initially, there were reports that five people were aboard the helicopter. Later at a news conference, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people including the pilot were on the helicopter. All were killed.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports that a helicopter crashed into a hillside before exploding into flames.
BlackmansStreet.Today contacted the sheriff’s department but a spokesman said department officials have not yet identified everyone who was aboard. The department held a news conference later Sunday but did not disclose much of anything.
The crash occurred at 9:47 a.m., spreading flames over a quarter of acre before firefighters put out the blaze.
The 41-year-old Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA named him Finals MVP twice and League MVP in 2009. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star. Bryant was the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points. He retired in 2016.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Bryant lived in Orange County, California, outside of Los Angeles. Born in 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kobe Bryant spent his early years in Italy where his father Joseph Washington “Jelly Bean” Bryant played basketball for seven years.