The basketball icon Kobe Bryant was killed in a crash of his private helicopter on Sunday in Calabasas, California.
Pepperdine Graphic, Pepperdine University’s student-run newspaper, published a tweet Sunday that showed what appeared to be an image of the helicopter and smoke in the distance.
All nine people aboard the helicopter were killed, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.
The helicopter was said to be traveling to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball practice.
Bryant’s use of the private helicopter became well known as the Los Angeles Lakers great used it to beat Los Angeles traffic and even help teammates get to doctors appointments.
According to a GQ profile in 2010, Bryant would use the helicopter to fly from his home in Orange County to Lakers home games and elsewhere. Bryant reportedly took advantage of the helicopter to help stay fit for games:
“But sexy as it might seem, Bryant says the helicopter is just another tool for maintaining his body. It’s no different than his weights or his whirlpool tubs or his custom-made Nikes. Given his broken finger, his fragile knees, his sore back and achy feet, not to mention his chronic agita, Bryant can’t sit in a car for two hours. The helicopter, therefore, ensures that he gets to Staples Center feeling fresh, that his body is warm and loose and fluid as mercury when he steps onto the court.”
Bryant’s helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76, a type that has had a relatively good safety record since its first flight in 1977.
In statements, the Federal Aviation Administration said it would investigate the crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board said it had a team responding to the crash site.
I’m the first to admit when I don’t know the answer, so, given the complexities of SoCal’s airspace, why request a special VFR clearance & attempt to maintain clear of clouds in challenging terrain & low ceilings when an IFR clearance would’ve guaranteed overall safety? #RIPKobe pic.twitter.com/SxhlCv5KxS— Miami Rick ✈️🇺🇸 (@miami_rick) January 27, 2020