Kobe Bryant, one of the world’s great sporting icons, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning, aged 41. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also on board the aircraft.
The former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star and his daughter were among nine passengers who were all killed in the crash, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Officials said firefighters were able to extinguish the flames as they work to preserve evidence.
Bryant spent the entirety of his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships, before retiring in 2016. He also won two Olympic gold medals with the US national team in 2008 and 2012. Follow live updates below:
Legendary head coach Greg Popovich pays tribute to Kobe Bryant.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has confirmed the team will retire the No 24 shirt as a tribute to Kobe Bryant.
“Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball and our organisation has decided that the No 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,” confirmed Cuban.
An emotional LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers paying tribute to Kobe Bryant.
Reaction pours in from across Asia
However, his death Sunday in a helicopter accident comes at an awkward time between the country and the league. National broadcaster CCTC pulled all NBA games off the air following a tweet in October from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
The Chinese Basketball Association, led by former Rockets MVP Yao Ming, announced it would suspend all cooperation with the Texas-based team. Yao and the association have yet to comment on the crash that killed Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven others.
Bryant’s popularity among Chinese fans was rivaled only by Yao, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. His playing appearances, including the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics won by the U.S., were far exceeded by his promotional appearances in the country, both on behalf of his own brand and basketball generally. At a 2013 Lakers preseason game against Golden State in Beijing, the arena rang out with chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” despite the injured super-star not even having suited up for the game.
Commemorations begin rolling in online, many of the accompanied by photos of Yao and Gianna with the letters R.I.P. Others showed the two dressed in uniform walking away into clouds under a basketball net.
“For our generation, our memories of the NBA begin with Jordan, and move through Kobe and Yao Ming. You were a part of our youth. Already missing the bright sun of Kobe. Go well,” wrote commentator “ZhanHao” on the popular Twitter-like Weibo messaging service.
“Your willpower has inspired a generation. Thank you,” wrote “Teacher Kai Ting.” “I hope there is basketball in heaven. Kobe just went to another world to play basketball with his daughter,” wrote “Cici’s green paper.”
In Taiwan, where the NBA also is an enormous draw, President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that her “thoughts go out to the Bryant family & the families of all those who lost loved ones today.”
“Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players, & his legacy will live on through those who loved him,” Tsai wrote.
Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that Bryant had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines . “He was well-loved by his Filipino fans,” Panelo said in a statement.
“On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats,” Panelo said. “The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief.”
In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Kobe Bryant’s death.
“He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press Monday.
Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste.
Tanimoto, who watches NBA games on TV but has never met Bryant, said people know the story about how Bryant got his name.
“We have always felt a closeness to him,” he said. “It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences.”
The manufacturer of the helicopter that crashed killing Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others has vowed to investigate the incident.
In a statement Lockheed Martin vowed to provide assistance to the NTSB in probing the fiery crash near Calabasas that killed the NBA legend and sent shockwaves around the globe.
The Sikorsky S-76B is made by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of the firm. On the company website it is billed as an aircraft specialising in search and rescue and VIP and executive transportation. Sikorsky models are used by President Trump and nine other global heads of state.
Our US editor Katie Davies has the full story:
The Orange Coast College team pictured mourning the loss of coach Altobelli in Sunday’s crash
A clip of Bryant directing traffic after a car crash in Newport Beach is being re-shared on social media:
The LAPD has confirmed that it grounded its helicopters Sunday morning because of foggy conditions, saying the weather ‘did not meet our minimum standards for flying’.
The star’s former pilot said the aircraft had the feel of a limousine and a strong safety record.
The manufacturer of the helicopter has promised to investigate the incident.
Lockheed Martin said it would provide assistance to authorities probing the crash near Calabasas.
There were no sounds of engine anomalies before it crashed, according to several people living nearby who were interviewed by local media.
At 9.40 am, the helicopter encountered thick fog, which forced them to turn south, flying over a mountainous area where it crashed into the side of one of the hills after suddenly descending.
Severe fog has been reported as a potential factor in the cause of the crash.
A player wearing a jersey in tribute to Kobe Bryant channeled Kobe’s winning mentality by leading his team to victory tonight:
Authorities say more identities of the victims would be announced once the families have been notified.
Christina Mauser, who was a coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar, was named by the Costa Mesa mayor as another of the victims.
Those on board the helicopter included Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, according to news reports.
Rick Fox, the retired basketball star who was initially rumoured to be among those on board the helicopter, has tweeted:
Kobe does not die. Not now. Kobe lives into his golden years, lives long enough to see his statues erected outside Staples Center and his jerseys inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He lives long enough to sit courtside at Staples when he’s stooped and grey, keeping alive the memories of two decades of greatness with a wink, maybe even fooling everyone one last time by retiring in a community next to Shaq.
And now he’s gone. Kobe is gone. Kobe is gone.
I’ll say it 81 times and it still won’t make any sense.
Tiger Woods was on the back nine on Sunday at Torrey Pines earlier today when he kept hearing ‘do it for Mamba’ shouts from the crowd. It was only after finishing the round that he was told what had happened by his caddie, sounding shocked as he responded: “Excuse me?”
The golf star later called it “one of the most shocking, tragic days that I’ve ever been a part of”.
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Tributes have poured in for Kobe Bryant after the former basketball star has died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41.
The likes of US president Donald Trump, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Whoopi Goldberg, Lennox Lewis, Andy Murray and Justin Bieber were among those to pay their respects to the five-time NBA champion on social media.
Bryant, regarded as one of the best players of all time, represented the Los Angeles Lakers for all of his 20-year career and also won two Olympic gold medals before retiring in 2016.
President Trump wrote on Twitter: “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”
Joel Embiid, a three-time NBA All-Star playing for Bryant’s hometown team the Philadelphia 76ers, said he took up basketball after watching “legend” Bryant in action and wanted to emulate him.
The Cameroon-born centre wrote: “Man I don’t even know where to start. I started playing ball because of KOBE after watching the 2010 finals. I had never watched ball before that and that finals was the turning point of my life. I WANTED TO BE LIKE KOBE. I’m so FREAKING SAD right now!!!! RIP LEGEND”
Former record-breaking Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt tweeted: “Still can’t believe” along with a photo of him with Bryant.
Tom Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner, wrote: “We miss you already Kobe”
Shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who won three NBA titles with the Miami Heat and was a team-mate of Bryant’s with the United States, wrote: “Nooooooooooo God please No!”
Team USA wrote: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of two-time Olympic champion Kobe Bryant. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
TV presenter Whoopi Goldberg wrote: “RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me & my family. My deepest condolences to his family.”
Former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis put a picture of Bryant on his Twitter account simply accompanied by the word “Heartbroken”.
Fellow boxer Tony Bellew, meanwhile, wrote: “Truly heartbreaking news about the great Kobe Bryant! An iconic figure who will go down with the greatest of his generation.”
Three-time grand slam tennis champion Andy Murray also paid tribute to Bryant, saying on an Instagram story “This has hit me hard”, while adding “Thinking of all his family, friends and colleagues.”
Scores of footballers tweeted their shock and sadness, including United States striker Alex Morgan, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku.
Morgan, a two-time World Cup winner and gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, wrote: “My heart is heavy with the news of Kobe Bryant. Prayers go out to his family right now through this unthinkable time.”
Serie A giants AC Milan tweeted: “We have no words to express how shocked we are to hear of the tragic passing of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time and Rossonero fan, Kobe Bryant. All our thoughts are with the families of those affected by this tragic accident. You will forever be missed, Kobe.”
Biles, winner of 23 Olympic and World Championship gold medals, wrote “rest in peace Kobe” alongside a picture of Bryant with the USA women’s gymnastics team.
Singer Bieber also put an old picture of him alongside Bryant on Instagram, saying: “It can’t be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day.! Love you man!”