Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Legend, Dead at 41
Basketball great dies in helicopter crash near Calabasas, California
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers legend, five-time NBA champion and one of the most prolific scorers in basketball history, is dead at the age of 41.
The retired basketball star was aboard a helicopter that crashed near Calabasas, California Sunday morning. Los Angeles County Sheriffs wrote that all five people aboard the helicopter were killed in the crash.
TMZ first reported that Bryant had died in the crash; the report was later confirmed by ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. The Los Angeles Times also confirmed Bryant’s death. Investigators were trying to determine what caused the crash, Variety reports.
The son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe was a basketball prodigy coming out of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, and upon being picked 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Lakers (via Charlotte Hornets), Bryant became the first-ever guard drafted in the first round out of high school.
That was the first of many achievements the player dubbed “Black Mamba” accomplished over his 20-year NBA career: In 18 of those 20 seasons, Bryant was named to 18 All-Star Games, second-ever only to fellow Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant made the NBA All-Defensive Team 12 times, was named All-NBA 15 times, won the scoring championship twice, was named NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010 and, in 2008, earned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Bryant’s #8 and #24, the two jersey numbers he wore in the Lakers’ purple-and-gold, are both retired in the Staples Center.
Bryant retired from basketball at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season; he scored 60 points in his final NBA game on April 13th, 2016. He was nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in December 2019.
In 2018, Bryant was the surprise recipient of an Academy Award after his John Williams-scored short film Dear Basketball won for Best Animated Short Film.
Bryant’s stunning death came just hours after LeBron James passed the Lakers great for third place on the all-time NBA scoring list. During Saturday’s game, James wrote “MAMBA 4 LIFE” on his sneakers in tribute to Bryant. “Kobe’s a legend, that’s for damn sure,” James said earlier in the day. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling and it’s dope.”
The story is developing…