On the morning of Sunday, January 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, and — according to officials speaking hours after the incident — six other people crashed in Calabasas, California, killing everyone on board. Bryant was 41 years old.
According to TMZ, the helicopter that crashed was a private aircraft owned by Bryant. Though the cause of the crash is unknown at the time of the making of this video, it is currently under investigation. The TMZ report also relays the observations of eyewitnesses to the crash, saying "that they heard the helicopter's engine sputtering before it went down."
While the identity of the pilot or of the other occupants of the helicopter besides Kobe, Gianna, and Altobelli have not been revealed yet, Vanessa Bryant — Kobe Bryant's wife of nearly two decades — was not on board when it crashed. An ABC news break shortly after the crash allegedly claimed that Bryant and all four of his children were on board the helicopter when it crashed. However, TMZ's report cited Bryant's reps that apparently only Gianna was on board.
Footage of the wreckage of the the tragic accident, which filled television, computer, and smartphone screens for hours after Bryant's death, reveal that the helicopter had crashed into the Santa Monica Mountains, which run along the Pacific Ocean on California's southern border.
According to the TMZ report, Bryant had routinely used his private helicopter as a means of transportation for many years. In 2010, a GQ profile of Bryant described his practice of taking a private chopper to all of his home games with the Los Angeles Lakers, a method of travel he continued to employ up through his retirement from the team and the NBA in 2016. Throughout the majority of his career with the Lakers, he lived in a house located in Newport Coast, in Newport Beach, California, and traveled via the helicopter to the Lakers' home at the STAPLES Center in LA, a distance of about 48 miles. The TMZ report was updated a few hours after its initial posting to assert that the helicopter was on its way to the Mamba Academy — Kobe Bryant's sports training facility — for basketball practice.
With his wife Vanessa, Kobe Bryant was father to four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca, and Capri, who was only born on June 20, 2019 — just over seven months before Bryant's untimely death.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, to former professional basketball player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, Kobe Bean Bryant enjoyed an illustrious 20 year career in the NBA as a shooting guard, having been drafted right out of high school to play for the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the LA Lakers in 1996.
Over the course of his two decades as a professional basketball player, he earned five NBA championships between the years of 2000 and 2010, and was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2009. For two consecutive years after that, in 2009 and 2010, he was named the NBA Finals' MVP. Bryant also earned two Olympic Gold Medals as a member of the United States Men's Basketball Teams in the Beijing and London Summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012, respectively. In 2017, the Lakers held a ceremony to retire both of Bryant's jerseys, number 8 and 24.
But Bryant's achievements weren't limited to the court — he was awarded an Oscar in 2018 for his animated short film "Dear Basketball," which was based on a poem he wrote in 2015 after announcing his retirement from the NBA.
While the Los Angeles Lakers have had their fair share of legendary players, few are as beloved or well-known as Kobe Bryant. Though he may have started his life on the other side of the country, Bryant spent nearly half his life as a Laker. In the wake of his tragic death, Los Angeles has lost a true legend.
Watch the video to find out everything we know about Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash so far.