LOS ANGELES: Basketball legend Kobe Bryant died late 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.
First responders put out the flames of the crash site, the sheriff’s department said, posting a picture of a fire truck and smoke emerging from the brush in a ravine.
The helicopter was described as a Sikorsky S-76, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Allen Kenitzer said.
The NBA icon’s death was later confirmed by ESPN and Variety citing unidentified sources.
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.
His last tweet honoured James as well.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother,” Bryant had said.
Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 and lasted until his retirement in 2016. He was known to use a helicopter for travel dating to his days as a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers.
He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London.