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Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant Dies In Helicopter Crash At Age 41

Kobe Bryant Dead In Helicopter Crash
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Jan. 26 2020, Updated 8:28 p.m. ET

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Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning, RadarOnline.com has confirmed.

The basketball star was 41.

His daughter Gianna Maria, known as GiGi, 13, was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash, a rep for Kobe told a website.

They were apparently on their way to Kobe's Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball practice when the crash occurred.

There were foggy and difficult weather conditions in Southern California on Sunday.

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According to the website report, Kobe was among five people traveling in his private helicopter when it went down. His wife Vanessa wasn't on the trip. A fire reportedly broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived and the five people are reportedly dead, the website noted.

Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent, ESPN has reported. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, there were no survivors of the crash. An investigation is ongoing.

His shaken friend Bailey Brown, who works for Magic Johnson Enterprises, confirmed Kobe's death to Radar, saying, “I have no words. He was a kind and loving and generous person. We all loved him so much. He was kind to everyone. I haven't spoken to Vanessa.”

A source told Radar about his last hours, "I just saw Kobe backstage at Madison Square Garden in New York with his oldest daughter Natalia watching LeBron James play. Kobe was chatting with Phil Collins, J Cole, and Howard Stern. They were all hanging out with Kobe and LeBron after the game."

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The crash comes one day after Kobe was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. As late as 10:39 p.m. ET on Saturday, Kobe was active on social media, congratulating LeBron on Twitter during the Lakers' 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The NBA legend played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe married former dancer Vanessa in 2001 and the couple had four kids, all daughters.

Vanessa gave birth to their last girl in June.

The couple had split up years ago, but later reconciled and seemed happier than ever.

Kobe went through a slew of shocking scandals, as RadarOnline.com reported. Before his last game with the Los Angeles Lakers on April 13, 2016, Bryant was involved in a rape scandal that nearly destroyed his career and his marriage.

He was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman on July 1, 2003 in his hotel room in The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Colorado. Kobe was arrested for the rape on July 4, 2003 and posted a $25,000 bond.

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The world was shocked by his tearful press conference in which he denied the allegations with Vanessa by his side.

"You're my backbone. You're a blessing. You're a piece of my heart. You're the air I breathe," Kobe told Vanessa as tears rolled down his face. "And you're the strongest person I know."

In 2004, the Kobe rape case was dismissed in Eagle, Colo., after prosecutors said the woman who had accused him of sexual assault was unwilling to testify, leaving the state no option but to drop all charges. Kobe weathered the scandal and emerged as a beloved elder of his sport.

In his storied basketball career, Kobe won NBA championships with the Lakers five times—in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010. After retiring from basketball, Kobe dabbled in show business, doing a Dear Basketball short. He created another set of short films titled Canvas City featuring a purple puppet aka Little Mamba.

In 2018, when a fan asked if Kobe was going to return to basketball in the comments of an Instagram video Vanessa posted of herself in Cabo, she wrote that her husband didn't want to play again and that they were just enjoying spending family time together.

Fellow NBA great Scottie Pippen said he was “stunned” over Kobe's death.

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