Kobe Bryant, 41, died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The former Los Angeles Lakers legend and NBA superstar was among five people confirmed dead in the crash. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, is reportedly not among them.
An investigation of the crash is ongoing, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which confirmed there are no survivors.
Bryant, an Orange County resident, famously took a helicopter to games and practices when playing for the Lakers as a means of avoiding traffic and the confined space of a car.
The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 career points, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and 18-time NBA All-Star who was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. He was twice an NBA Finals MVP and an 11-time All-NBA First Team selection who helped the United States win two Olympic gold medals. The two-time NBA scoring champion was known just as much for his prowess on the other end of the court, picking up nine selections to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Bryant is especially revered among Lakers fans. A high school phenomenon in Philadelphia and the son of former NBA Player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, Kobe was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 but immediately traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.
He was the youngest player in NBA history when he took the court in 1996 and spent his entire 20-year career in Los Angeles. Bryant ultimately played more games in purple and gold than anyone in franchise history and holding distinctions as the team’s all-time leader in points, minutes and steals.
Magic Johnson himself has called Bryant the greatest player in Lakers history, a statement that would be supported by millions of fans. Both of Bryant’s jersey numbers — 8 and 24 — were retired by the Lakers. He is the only player in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team. He wore No. 8 for his first 10 seasons in the NBA and No. 24 for his final 10.
Bryant had spent his retirement working on a variety of different projects. He won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 2018 for Dear Basketball, based on the essay he wrote announcing his retirement. He also released the first book in a planned young adult fantasy series, The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, written alongside Wesley King. His entertainment company, Granity Studios, had a number of other projects in the works.