Kobe Bryant dead: Career in pictures after NBA legend tragically killed in helicopter crash

All-time great and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed

Tom Kershaw,Lawrence Ostlere
Monday 27 January 2020 00:28 GMT
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant dead aged 41

The world grieved on Sunday as news travelled that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office was informed at 10am, with the Los Angeles County Fire department initially unable to get close to the site due to the crash igniting brushfires.

Bryant was one of basketball’s all-time greats and an iconic figure in global sport, spending the entirety of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers and winning five NBA championships. The 41-year-old also won two Olympic gold medals with the US national team, in 2008 and 2012, and was included in the NBA’s All-Star team 18 times.

Bryant, who was born in Philadelphia in 1978, was already a magnetic talent during his early years, foregoing a college career and becoming the youngest ever player to make his NBA debut at the time in 1996 as an 18-year-old.

He retired in 2016 as the third-highest all-time scorer in NBA history and moved into the media, winning an Oscar for best animated short for his film Dear Basktball, based on a poem he wrote about his retirement.

Click through the gallery above to see Bryant’s career in pictures.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.

“But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in the crash
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in the crash (Getty)

“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organisation and the entire sports world.”

Alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant spurred the LA Lakers to three successive NBA titles between 2000 and 2002 – a feat which has never been matched since.

O’Neal tweeted: “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. I’m sick right now”.

Barack Obama and President Donald Trump also both paid tribute to Bryant as did countless others, including close friend Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles and Lebron James.

The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s shirt numbers – eight and 24 – in a ceremony in December 2017, when then franchise president Magic Johnson said: “We’re here to celebrate the greatest who has ever worn the purple and gold.”

After hearing the news, Johnson tweeted: “I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. I love him, his family and what he stood for on the court and off the court.”

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