Kobe Bryant, daughter dead in helicopter crash


Photo courtesy of Wikicommons

Matthew Rago, Editor-in-Chief

According to  reports, NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, Ca.

As first reported by TMZ, Bryant was traveling with four others in his private helicopter. However, Los Angeles County Sheriff  later revealed that nine individuals, including Bryant, were onboard the flight. The Independent has since learned the identities of the victims, which include Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Peyton Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan. All nine are confirmed dead.

ABC initially reported that Bryant’s four daughters were among those killed in the crash, though TMZ and ESPN’s Adam Wojanowski later reported that of his immediate family, only Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was on board. Neither Bryant’s wife Vanessa nor his other three daughters were on the plane.

Art Marrujo, a dispatch supervisor with Los Angeles County Fire Department, told the Associated Press that emergency personnel responded to a fire that broke out after the crash.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing sputtering from the helicopter engine prior to descent, though the cause of the crash remains unknown. However, the flight took off in foggy conditions which grounded police helicopters, though the flight was given clearance for takeoff.

Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was a 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion.  Over the course of his 20-year career, Bryant collected two scoring championships (2005-06, 2006-07), two NBA Finals MVP awards and one regular season MVP award. He was selected to 15 All-NBA teams and 12 All-NBA Defensive Teams before retiring in 2016.

Bryant was also renowned for his hard-nosed, can-do attitude. While he engaged in personality clashes with former teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, Bryant was celebrated for his relentless pursuit of excellence. Nicknamed the “Black Mamba,” Bryant, who scored 60 points on 50 shots in his final NBA game, offered a nod of approval to current Lakers star LeBron James yesterday after James passed him for third all-time in NBA scoring, with Bryant tweeted, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother. #33644”