LA Lakers and the United States Basketball legend Kobe Bryant is dead, as reports have it that he was among five people killed in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.
Kobe Bryant, who was only 41, was travelling in a private helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames, according to reports.
The five-time NBA champion was widely considered one of the greatest players in the game’s history.
The identities of the other victims have not yet been released.
In a statement, the City of Calabasas said it was “with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash”.
“The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt,” it added.
Eyewitnesses told news site TMZ they heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department shared pictures from the scene of the accident, showing a fire truck and smoke emerging from the hills.
The US Federal Aviation Administration identified the crashed helicopter as a Sikorsky S-76. It said it was investigating the accident alongside the National Transportation Safety Board.
Officials are set to give further details at a press conference at 22:00 GMT.
KB is survived by his wife Vanessa. Together, they have four daughters — Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri. Kobe and Vanessa got married in 2001 after meeting in 1999.
A memorial to Kobe has already sprung up outside of Staples Center, where #Kobe played for years.
Kobe Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in April 2016.
His achievements include being the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also two-time NBA scoring champion and a two-time Olympic champion.
He also won an Oscar for best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015.
He was on 15 All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams and led the league in scoring for two seasons. He ranks fourth in the NBA for all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring.
The Lakers famously retired both of Kobe’s jerseys, number 8 and 24 … the only player in team history to receive that honour.