Kobe Bryant, NBA icon and PA native, dies in helicopter crash
Basketball superstar and Philadelphia area native, Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash. He was 41.
As first reported by TMZ, one of Bryant's four daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, also was among those killed in the crash.
The athlete's wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three other girls, Natalia and Bianca and Capri, were not on-board, TMZ also reported.
Los Angeles County authorities shared during a late afternoon news conference that 8 passengers and the pilot all were killed in the crash and subsequent fire, which remain under investigation.
Bryant became a basketball star as a teen at Lower Merion High School in the Ardmore section of Lower Merion, a Philadelphia suburb. He played on the varsity team as a freshman.
After entering the NBA directly from high school, Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships along the way.
He retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history and held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia.
The last tweet from Bryant's Twitter account before the chopper crash congratulated James for the cumulative 33,644 points.
Among those reacting to the news of Bryant's death, New Jersey native and former NBA pro Jason "Jay" Williams gave a heartfelt, tearful remembrance on ESPN SportsCenter. The retired Chicago Bulls star, who grew up in Plainfield, said Bryant had a profound impact on his own life.
Soccer pro and Burlington County native, Carli Lloyd paid tribute on Instagram, where she captioned a photo of herself with Bryant "An inspiration on and off the court. Someone who I respected and idolized so much. Thank you Kobe for being you. For teaching us all the concept of hard work and inspiring those around you. Life is fragile and we all must remember this. My heart goes out to his family and friends."
Fellow Philadelphia native, director M. Night Shyamalan. He wrote on Twitter, "Shocked and saddened to hear about Kobe Bryant. To us in Philly he was one of ours. His loss will be felt throughout the city. #ripkobe"
Several NFL pros also were among the first to react to the stunning news. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Carson Wentz tweeted "A legend is gone too soon. RIP Kobe. #mamba"
Bryant was a lifelong Eagles fan and was among those excited when his hometown team won the Super Bowl in 2018. A social media clip shared by his wife was re-shared by ESPN, as seen below.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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