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NBA legend Kobe Bryant confirmed dead in helicopter crash

by Meg Bethany Koepp
Instagram: @kobebryant

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NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter passed away on January 26 after being involved in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

According to an article from TMZ Sports, the 41-year-old was traveling with his second-oldest daughter Gianna Maria and six other passengers when the helicopter went down, causing a fire to break out.

There were no survivors reported, and nine people have been confirmed to be deceased, including the pilot. His wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not on board. Eyewitnesses also told the news outlet that spluttering could be heard from the helicopter's engine before the fatal accident occurred.

LA County Sheriff\'s Department
The scene of the crash.

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The Pennsylvania-born star played his entire 20-year basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five championships and made 18 All-Star games before he retired in April 2016. He was regarded as one of the "greatest players in the history of our game" by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

His other achievements include being the 2008 NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP, as well as being awarded an Oscar for his 2018 film Dear Basketball, a short love letter dedicated to the sport.

The sporting legend had famously used private helicopter travel for many years, and commuted from his home in Newport Beach, California to the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles to play matches.

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In 2018, Bryant invested in Epic Games under his firm $100m Bryant Stibel, and also put money into an esports training ground at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.

Bryant's daughter Gianna – nicknamed Gigi – was also a massive basketball fan, and often attended games with her father. Earlier in January, Kobe credited her for reigniting his love of the sport following his retirement.

“You know what’s funny? Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night," he said on the Showtime Basketball podcast on January 8.

He then revealed how they'd attended a Lakers game together, and that it was the first one he'd been to since his jerseys were retired in 2017. "When I took her to the Laker game, that’s the first Laker game I’ve been to I think since my jersey retirement,” he said. “We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes."

(Timestamp 32:30 for mobile viewers.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R3KIyEgCgc

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Tributes for the NBA legend and Gianna poured out on social media, with many celebrities and influencers paying their respects on Twitter. "RIP and prayers to his entire family and everyone affected," Fortnite star Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins tweeted.

Twitch star Dr Disrespect was devastated by the tragedy. "Completely destroyed right now," he said. "Kobe Bryant, you provided so many incredible memories and inspirational moments. You were the best. RIP."

"What a terrible terrible tragedy," 100 Thieves member Jack 'CouRage' Dunlop said. "I feel so bad for his family. RIP Kobe Bryant."

Popular YouTuber and Team 10 Founder Jake Paul also shared his condolences. "Sending so much love to kobe’s family... this s**t can’t be real... so heartbreaking," he said.

"Kobe was such a titan in our time. You knew that even if you were not a fan of basketball. He impacted so many people in a positive way," Twitch streamer Brett 'Dakotaz' Hoffman tweeted. "Truly will be missed by the world.
May he rest in peace & everyone on board."

FaZe Clan's Nick 'NICKMERCS' Kolcheff said, "Damn man... Unbelievable news. Rest In Peace [Kobe Bryant], heart goes out to his family."

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa and three children, daughters Natalia, Bianca, and their seven-month-old Capri.