Sports

NBA legend Bryant killed in helicopter crash

Los Angeles, Jan 27 (AFP) | Publish Date: 1/27/2020 12:34:09 PM IST

NBA legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday when a helicopter he was riding in crashed and burst into flames in thick fog, killing all nine people on board including his teenage daughter and plunging legions of fans around the world into mourning.

Bryant, 41, was travelling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers and crew when their Sikorsky S-76 helicopter slammed into a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. There were no survivors.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players in history, an iconic figure who became one of the faces of his sport during a glittering two-decade career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dozens of firefighters and paramedics battled across steep terrain to reach the flaming wreckage at the crash site but found no survivors, officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said an 18-strong team of investigators would be sent to California to probe the causes of the crash.

Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world, with basketball stars stunned by the news.

“Laker Nation, the game of basketball & our city, will never be the same without Kobe,” former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan said Bryant was “like a little brother” to him.

“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling,” Jordan said. “We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much.” 

Brazilian soccer star Neymar paid tribute to Bryant after scoring for his French club side Paris Saint-Germain, making the number 24 - Bryant’s old shirt number - with his fingers. At the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, crowds of shocked fans gathered to pay tribute as the venue which witnessed many of Bryant’s career highlights hosted the music industry’s Grammy Awards.

Hundreds, many wearing purple and gold Lakers shirts, gathered around a makeshift memorial to place flowers and candles for their hero.

The crash came only hours after Bryant was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia. Bryant’s final post on social media had been a tweet congratulating James on surpassing him.

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of a high school and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

He also was a two-time Olympic gold medallist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London. Bryant bowed out of the NBA in 2016, scoring 60 points in his final appearance before his adoring fans at the Staples Centre.

 

-Tags:#NBA

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