LOS ANGELES: NBA legend Kobe Bryant died yesterday in a helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles, celebrity website TMZ reported, in an accident confirmed by police that saw five people killed. Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said there were no survivors from the morning crash on a hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. The helicopter was described as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.
TMZ was the first US outlet to report that Bryant was among the fatalities. The NBA icon's death was later confirmed by ESPN and Variety citing unidentified sources. The crash came only hours after the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers star was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia. Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 and lasted until his retirement in 2016. He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London. - AFP