NEWS
27/01/2020 9:22 AM AEDT | Updated 27/01/2020 9:50 AM AEDT

Los Angeles Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant Dies In Helicopter Crash

The basketball star, nicknamed “Black Mamba,” was 41.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. The former Los Angeles Laker, nicknamed “Black Mamba,” was 41.

His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was reportedly among the helicopter’s other four passengers, who were all confirmed dead. The identities of the other crash victims have not yet been confirmed.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed a S-76 helicopter crashed “under unknown circumstances.” The FAA said it will investigate the crash, as will the National Transportation Safety Board.

Bryant, who was married to wife Vanessa for more than 18 years, was the father of four daughters. 

A spokesperson for Bryant did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

Bryant entered the league in 1996 right after he graduated from high school and played for the Lakers for 20 seasons. He was a five-time NBA champion, helping the Lakers win titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.

The 18-time NBA All-Star was named league MVP in 2008. He also won two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball.

The basketball star, who retired from the Lakers in 2016, ranks at No. 4 on the NBA’s all-time points leaders, with 33,643 points. Bryant tweeted his congratulations to Laker LeBron James on Saturday, after James’ total points passed Bryant’s, putting James in the No. 3 spot. It was Bryant’s last tweet.

In 2018, Bryant became the first NBA player in history to win an Academy Award for his animated short “Dear Basketball.”

He faced backlash in 2003 after he was accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. He admitted to having a sexual encounter with the woman, but denied the accusation that it was rape. The young woman declined to testify in court, and the case was later dropped. They later settled a civil suit she filed in 2005. 

Bryant was remembered on Sunday as ”father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Twitter, where fans and those who knew him expressed their sadness and paid tribute to him.

“Kobe will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes,” Garcetti said in a tweet.