Five people were killed Sunday, including Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, when a helicopter crashed along a hillside in Calabasas.
The crash, in the area of Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street, was called in at 9:47 a.m., according to a watch commander at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lost Hills/Malibu station.
The helicopter was described as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said. TMZ — which first reported Bryant’s death, said the helicopter belonged to Bryant.
There were no survivors, according to sheriff’s officials, who added that the crash triggered a small fire that was quickly put out.
The Lakers confirmed that Bryant was one of the victims.
“We can confirm that Kobe Bryant passed away today from the causes of a helicopter accident. The entire Los Angeles Lakers family wishes to support their family and friends. RIP KOBE,” the team tweeted at 12:24 p.m.
The other four victims have not been identified, but sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Bryant was on his way to a basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Another player and parent reportedly were also on board.
TMZ reported that they were en route to the Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks for a basketball practice when the crash occurred.
As the news spread, Lakers fans began gathering outside Staples Center, prompting the Los Angeles Police Department to remind the public that “the area around the Staples Center is closed due to the Grammys & fans will not be able to access the arena.”
One fan told KTLA, “I didn’t know what else to do, so I came here.”
A slew of famous names from sports, entertainment and politics quickly reacted to Bryant’s death.
“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief.”
Former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade tweeted: “Nooooooooooo God please No!”
Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce — who battled Kobe twice in the NBA Finals — tweeted: “This is not real right now.”
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times, tweeted: “Heartbroken and numb. Please pray for Vanessa and the children. Rest In Peace Kobe. We will all miss you so much.”
Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co., called Bryant “`a giant in sports and a person so full of life. Terrible news and so hard to process….”
Entertainer Cherm tweeted: “My heart goes out to Kobe’s family, friends, fans. It’s so hard to deal with the death of a great star because we feel as if we knew them personally. Kobe Bryant was a great athlete and all of America will feel his loss. The world has lost a bright light.”
President Donald Trump also weighed in Sunday, tweeting that Bryant’s seath was “terrible news!”
Bryant lived in Newport Beach, where city officials sent out the following statement Sunday: “It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to Newport Beach resident and international sports legend Kobe Bryant. Our prayers are with his family, friends, colleagues and neighbors as our community grieves this sudden and devastating loss. Kobe leaves behind an unmatched legacy of excellence, on and off the court, that will not be forgotten.”
Bryant, one of the NBA’s all-time greats, last tweeted himself Saturday night, congratulating current Lakers superstar LeBron James on passing Bryant for third place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” the tweet said.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: