Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, a city in Los Angeles County in the United States, news reports said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff said on Twitter that five people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, about 65km (40 miles) northwest of Los Angeles, and there were no survivors. It did not identify the victims.
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.
A five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant was considered one of the greatest basketball players ever.
He survived by his wife, Vanessa, and four daughters – Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and Capri.
Bryant was known to use a helicopter for travel dating to his days as a star player for the Los Angeles Lakers, when he commuted to games in a Sikorsky S-76 chopper, the celebrity news website TMZ said.
On Saturday, Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James passed Bryant, the team’s legendary shooting guard, into third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Named Kobe by his parents after they spotted the popular Japanese cut of beef on a restaurant menu shortly before his birth, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, having won titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
He was drafted out of high school with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was traded shortly after to the Lakers for Serbian Vlade Divac.
He appeared in 17 All-Star games, was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2007-08 regular season and landed MVP honours in the 2009 and 2010 finals, when he led the Lakers to consecutive championships.
Bryant has also won gold medals with the US basketball team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Bryant was sidelined nearly eight months in 2013 with a torn Achilles tendon, then played just six games during the 2013-14 season because of a severe knee injury. — Al jazeera