Kobe Bryant, Daughter, Seven Others Die in Helicopter Crash

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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, 41, died today in an explosive helicopter crash that also killed his daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven other occupants who were traveling to a girls' basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.

The debris field from the crash, which occurred in heavy fog thirty miles outside Los Angeles in the city of Calabasas, was extensive. The National Transportation and Safety Board, NTSB, is expected to arrive in Los Angeles to process the scene sometime this evening.

The cabin of the Lockheed Martin Sikorsky S-76B, the luxury class of corporate transportation, appeared completely disintegrated and was barely visible in the still smoldering, charred wreckage. Shattered pieces and fragments were scattered for a quarter mile. Two large sections of the Sikorsky tail appeared to have survived the impact. There were no survivors.

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In addition to Bryant and his daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, the other passengers who died in the crash have been identified as friend and classmate of Gigi, Alyssa Altobelli, 13, her parents, Kerri and John, a baseball coach with the Orange Coast College Pirate Athletics; and Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at an elite girls school in Orange county, and two unidentified guests and the pilot.

No statement has been issued from the surviving members of the Bryant Family or their spokesperson.

Los Angeles Sheriff and Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby received a 911 call reporting a brush fire on the Calabasas hillside at approximately 10:00AM PST. The responding team of firefighters, paramedics and rescue workers, needed to initially contain the "stubborn fire" before they were able to approach the aircraft.

It was immediately apparent there were no survivors. The flight manifest informed the authorities of the occupants. The coroner has yet to complete the identification process, although six of the occupants have been identified. Federal officials will investigate and determine the cause of the crash.

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The public outpouring of support, prayers, shock, disbelief filled social media as Bryant, who retired from the Los Angeles Lakers franchise in 2016, delighted fans the world over with his command over the game. His career high score was just eclipsed last evening by Los Angeles Lakers Lebron James. Kobe Bryant tweeted, "Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644," less than 24 hours later he would die. 

The LA fans, who began gathering outside the Los Angeles Staples Center moments after the news broke have remained all day, as the franchise paid tribute to the one who gave this city so much excitement for two decades.

NBA superstars, Shaq, Lebron, Michal Jordan, former President Barack Obama, celebrities from the world of music, film and television, and executives and so many others all reacting with shock, disbelief, heartbreak over the loss. In addition to delighting basketball fans the world over, Bryant was a showman on the court. His wow shots wowed the crowd and the fans for 20 years.

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Bryant, who went pro right out of high school, became one of the all-time greatest players in the sport. Selected 18 times, over his twenty years with the Lakers, for the All-Star Games, selected 15 times as a member of the All-NBA team, winner of two Olympic Gold Medals, a 12 time member of the All-Defensive league, he was part of five NBA Championships. In his retirement game, he scored 60 points, and walked away from the game. He scored a career and game high of 81 points January 22, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors. His second act, which had already produced an Academy Award, was largely recognized as one that would become equal to or greater than the first which would be hard to surpass.

Bryant, who was in route to the Mamba Sports Arena to coach his daughter, a player on the Lady Mavericks and who by all accounts had his moves and was becoming an accomplished female basketball star, co-founded the training facility for professional and amateur athletic in 2018. Bryant was the Lady Mavericks basketball coach.

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He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, three daughters ages 17, 3, and 6 months. No additional information has been released.

This is a developing story.

Image courtesy of creative commons with attribution as follows:

Kobe Bryant, Author Keith Allison, from Hanover , MD, December 2, 2015. This file has been extracted from another file Kobe Bryant with John Wall. The image has been reduced to fit the parameters.

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