NBA great Kobe Bryant is mourned after helicopter crash

Emotional tributes pour in for the former Lakers star.

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2 min read

Kobe Bryant was 41.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Southern California. Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also among those killed when the helicopter burst into flames after crashing in foggy conditions. 

All nine people on board the helicopter died when it hit a hillside shortly before 10 a.m. PT in the Calabasas area northwest of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said.

Bryant, who was 41, is widely regarded as one of basketball's greatest players of all time, frequently compared with fellow NBA icon Michael Jordan. The 6-foot-6 guard spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA titles and earning All-Star honors 18 times.

He was the league's most valuable player in 2008 and won two gold medals with the USA Men's Basketball team in 2008 and 2012. Bryant was drafted out of high school at the age of 17, and when he made his professional debut in 1996, he was the youngest player to ever appear in an NBA game.

He was also the youngest player in NBA history to amass 27,000 career points. On Saturday, Bryant sent a tweet -- his last -- congratulating LeBron James for passing him for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

Bryant retired in 2015 and will be eligible for the NBA Hall of Fame this year.

In 2016, Bryant began a new career, running a $100 million venture capital fund that primarily invests in tech, media and data companies. At the time, Bryant said he recognized venture capital is a "different ballgame" than his NBA job, but said the disciplines he learned playing pro basketball for 20 years applied to his VC job. 

Bryant also picked up an Academy Award in 2018 for the animated short Dear Basketball, which is based on a letter he wrote in 2015 announcing his retirement from basketball.

Basketball greats and the NBA honored the legendary player.  

Among the many remembering Bryant was singer and former Lakers cheerleader Paula Abdul.

Countless more extended their thoughts to Bryant's family and memorialized the basketball great, including former President Barack Obama and two well-known names in tech who also own basketball teams -- Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and now owner of the LA Clippers, and Mark Cuban, longtime tech investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, also honored Bryant, who appeared in a light-hearted Apple ad in 2016.

Originally published Jan. 26 at 12:05 p.m. PT. Updated as more reactions pour in.