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Kobe Bryant killed in chopper crash

Agence France-Presse

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NBA legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles, celebrity website TMZ reported, in an accident confirmed by police that saw five people killed.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said there were no survivors from the morning crash on a hillside in Calabasas, west of Los Angeles.

The helicopter was described as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

TMZ was the first US outlet to report that Bryant was among the fatalities. The NBA icon’s death was later confirmed by ESPN and Variety, citing unidentified sources.

“It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas,” Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub said. “The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.”

The crash site in Calabasas where Kobe Bryant and four others were killed on Sunday. (Los Angeles Times)

The crash came only hours after the 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers star was passed by current Lakers star LeBron James for third on the all-time NBA scoring list in a Saturday game at Philadelphia.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia. He was drafted out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick in 1996. He was then traded to the Lakers and was voted an All-Star game starter at 19 in 1998.

He was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 and lasted until his retirement in 2016.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, he helped spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London.

He left behind wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, who turned 17 a week ago; Gianna; Bianka; and seven-month-old Capri.

(With a report from NBC LA)

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