The world is mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, dead at age 41 in a helicopter crash.
TMZ was the first outlet to report that a helicopter carrying the former Los Angeles Lakers star and some other passengers crashed Sunday in Calabasas, California.
Bryant’s rep confirmed the NBA icon’s death to TMZ, adding even more sad news: Bryant’s daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, known as GiGi, was also onboard the helicopter, and died in the crash. She was 13.
A tweet issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Office reported that five people were onboard; there were no survivors.
The Los Angeles Times had more detail about the horrific accident, reporting that the helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, crashed amid foggy conditions and burst into flames in the hills above Calabasas.
According to sources, the crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. PT, with the crash igniting a brush fire that reportedly “made it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the aircraft.”
Federal Aviation Agency spokesman Allen Kenitzer told the Times that his agency and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
The National Basketball Players Association issued a statement addressing Bryant’s passing, lamenting the “monumental loss for the entire basketball community.”
Bryant was honoured on Sunday during the Toronto Raptors-San Antonio Spurs game in San Antonio, with Bryant’s photo displayed on the screen during the game.
LA Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson reacted to the news of Bryant’s passing in a rare telephone interview with CBS2.
“My reaction is the same as almost all of L.A.,” Nicholson said. “Where everything was solid, there’s just a hole in the wall.”
He went on to talk about the first time he met the NBA player.
“I remember him in totality as just how great a player he was. But you know I teased him the first time we met. It was in the [Madison Square] Garden in New York and I offered him a basketball and asked him if he wanted me to autograph it for him. He looked at me like I was crazy.”
Bryant’s famous friends and celebrity fans began sharing tributes on Twitter, including Drake, NHL icon Wayne Gretzky, Ellen DeGeneres, Justin Bieber, Disney CEO Robert Iger and a touching tribute from his former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
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There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW !
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This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will he so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe 💔💔💔 *update* I just heard his daughter Gigi was also in the accident and it breaks my heart. This whole family was so sweet and now they’re in my prayers heavy. RIP Gigi beautiful girl. 💔💔💔