Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others killed in helicopter crash
Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant has been killed in a helicopter crash in southern California.
The 41-year-old Lakers legend was one of nine people killed after the helicopter went down.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, known as Gigi, was also among those killed.
LA County Sheriffs confirmed a helicopter was downed in Calabasas, and initially said they believed the five people on board had been confirmed dead. In a press conference, live streamed around the world, the Sheriff’s office said they now believe nine people were aboard the helicopter.
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) January 26, 2020
Nine News US Correspondent in LA, Charles Croucher, said the news has “surprised and shocked” the city.
“He has been one of the faces of the NBA this century,” he said.
The helicopter was heading to the small Californian town of El Monte before it went down.
“This was a light helicopter travelling in pretty heavy mist. It went down near Malibu, just north of Los Angeles,” Mr Croucher said.
“We now have confirmation through multiple reports that Kobe Bryant was aboard.”
Channel Seven’s Hamish McLachlan interviewed Bryant last year.
“I spent a couple of days with him last year and I was pretty intimidated because I’d read about Kobe, understood that Kobe was a demanding man on court,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.
“But I just found him to be the most warm, and welcoming, and articulate, and interesting, and interested man.
“He was just a guy that you wanted to spend more time with.”
Bryant, who was well known for using helicopters to beat LA’s notoriously bad traffic, started doing so in order to spend more time with his family.
“One of the ironies for me was he was talking about his family, and I said to him ‘when did you decide to stop driving to practice and games?’,” Mr McLachlan said.
“He was living about 45 minutes away from the basketball court, traffic was getting worse, and he said ‘I realised that I could save about an hour and a half a day by getting a chopper. I could afford a chopper so that was an hour and a half more that I could spend with my family or train’.”
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Image: Paul Bereswill / Getty