Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash; Barack Obama, Shaq, Kanye, Drake, Flea, MJ, Brian Wilson & more pay tribute
We are shocked to learn that basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles suburb Calabasas on Sunday morning (1/26). He was 41. The news first broke on TMZ and it’s also been confirmed to Variety, ESPN, and others.
UPDATE: TMZ is also now reporting that reps for Kobe tell them Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore (aka Gigi) was also killed in the crash. She was 13. TMZ was told they were on their way to basketball practice for Gigi when the crash occurred.
UPDATE 2: TMZ is now reporting that officials say they believe 9 people were on board, including one pilot, and that there were no survivors. Other passengers included Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and girls basketball coach Christina Mauser.
L.A. weather was extremely foggy Sunday morning, and law enforcement sources tell us even LAPD air support was grounded because of it. Flight tracker data shows Kobe’s chopper appeared to first encounter weather issues as it was above the L.A. Zoo. It circled that area at least 6 times at a very low altitude — around 875 feet — perhaps waiting for the fog to clear.
We know the pilot contacted the control tower at Burbank Airport around 9:30 AM PT, and the tower was aware the pilot had been circling for about 15 minutes. The pilot eventually headed north along the 118 freeway before turning to the west, and started following above the 101 freeway around Woodland Hills, CA.
At around 9:40 AM they encounter more weather — as in seriously heavy fog — and the chopper turned south. This was critical, because they turned toward a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly and rapidly climbed from about 1200 feet up to 2000 feet.
However, moments later — around 9:45 AM — they flew into a mountain at 1700 feet. Flight tracker data shows they were flying at about 161 knots.
[…] Kobe Bryant died in a helicoper crash in Calabasas Sunday morning … TMZ Sports has confirmed.
Kobe was traveling with at least 3 other people in his private helicopter when it went down. A fire broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived. 5 people are confirmed dead. We’re told Vanessa Bryant was not among those on board.
Eyewitnesses also tell us that they heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down. As you can see, flames and smoke covered much of the scene from the wreck. The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years — dating back to when he played for the Lakers. He was known for commuting from Newport Beach, CA to the STAPLES Center in DTLA in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper.
KB is survived by his wife Vanessa. Together, they have four daughters — Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri. Kobe and Vanessa got married in 2001 after meeting in 1999.
The news comes one day after Kobe was passed by Lebron James for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. This story is still developing.
Tons of people are already paying tribute to Kobe, including tons of musicians. See tributes below from Barack Obama, Shaq, Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Brian Wilson, Drake, Flea, Ryley Walker, The 1975’s Matty Healy, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, A$AP Rocky, Wu-Tang Clan, Cardi B, Killer Mike, Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah, Taylor Swift, Vince Staples, Liz Phair, Meek Mill, Swae Lee, Gucci Mane, Black Milk, Rick Ross, Zola Jesus, and more…
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
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. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Michael Jordan wrote, “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in send my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”
Statement from Michael Jordan: pic.twitter.com/oI7w6e7HLI
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) January 26, 2020
Kobe, We love you brother
We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave pic.twitter.com/pxbgLOOmpY
— ye (@kanyewest) January 26, 2020
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 26, 2020
RIP KOBE , SO SAD , SUCH A SAD DAY N SAD NEWS , WE LOVE U
— LORD FLACKO JODYE II (@asvpxrocky) January 26, 2020
I love you Kobe
— Flea (@flea333) January 26, 2020
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of @kobebryant Shocked and saddened to hear he has died in a helicopter accident. A man that transcends basketball and sport in general. One of the all time great athletes. #rip #nba #KobeByrant pic.twitter.com/IFYQa2MCoE
— Wu Tang Clan (@WuTangClan) January 26, 2020
I will always scream “KOBE!” as I throw a water bottle into a trash can far away. RIP legend.
— Ryley walker (@ryleywalker) January 26, 2020
My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 26, 2020
what a tragic, unexpected loss.
— ZJ for BERNIE SANDERS 2020 (@ZOLAJESUS) January 26, 2020
— Vince Staples (@vincestaples) January 26, 2020
— Liz Phair (@PhizLair) January 26, 2020
Some of the most fun times I’ve had with my family has been going to Lakers games, so it is so shocking and so sad to hear about Kobe Bryant. Love and mercy to Kobe’s beautiful family.
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) January 26, 2020
The world lost a giant today
Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant. Also praying for the other passengers that we lost and their families.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) January 26, 2020
kobe was my everything growing up. a true rockstar. RIP. pic.twitter.com/E2AtGbE4bi
— RADO (@JonathanRado) January 26, 2020
Kobe this cant be real!!!
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 26, 2020
We lost a King. 824
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) January 26, 2020
Sending prayers for the Bryant family for strength during this time♀️
— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) January 26, 2020
This is heartbreaking… May they all rest in peace & strength for all their familiesso sad
— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) January 27, 2020
We’re never ready for this type of news RIP Kobe Bryant
— Swae Lee Lee Swae (@SwaeLee) January 26, 2020
Rest In Peace Kobe! My heart broken ❤️
— Gucci Mane (@gucci1017) January 26, 2020
Dog, WTF!! Nooo!!!!!
— Black Milk (@black_milk) January 26, 2020
— Yung Rénzél (@RickRoss) January 26, 2020
Me and Kobe share bdays shit sad man.. shit feel like I keep on saying rip dawg wtf
— caliginous boat (@lilyachty) January 26, 2020
I had Kobe Bryant picture on my wall as a kid….I ain’t come up On Michael Jordan I wanted To b Like KobeRip to one of the greats
— Polo.G (@Polo_Capalot) January 26, 2020
man, life is fucking short. What a reminder to truly live everyday as if it’s your last.
— Best Coast (@BestCoast) January 26, 2020
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ! ! ! pic.twitter.com/4Kg74VKPUu
— MAXWELL (@_MAXWELL_) January 26, 2020
No god please noooooooooooo
— TEYANA M.J. SHUMPERT (@TEYANATAYLOR) January 26, 2020
wow dude. prayers for the Bryant family.
— sunny (@isaiahrashad) January 26, 2020
Kobe we love you and everything you did for the game of basketball. More than basketball you were a great father and man.
— Stalley (@Stalley) January 26, 2020
What incredibly tragic news
— (@Truman_Black) January 26, 2020
What the fuck
— (@Truman_Black) January 26, 2020
— matt sorum (@mattsorum) January 26, 2020
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) January 26, 2020
Shocking. Crazy. Too young. pretty much says it. Tragic.
Bad day for the nation. https://t.co/EXeHBGwCVl
— Vernon Reid (@vurnt22) January 26, 2020
Just got the AWFUL news about Kobe….. Man!!!!! I’m speechless.
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) January 26, 2020
— Phil Demmel (@DemmelitionMH) January 26, 2020
— DeJa (@DeJLoaf) January 26, 2020
heart broken. chest tight. chills. childhood hero. inspiration on so many levels. if you know me, you know. i modeled my music career after watching you master your basketball craft & for that i’m forever in debt. thank you. RIP Kobe Bryant #8 #24
— black (@6LACK) January 26, 2020
— The Game (@thegame) January 26, 2020
Im absolutely heart broken. I have no words. My thoughts and prayers are with Kobe’s family.
— Becky G. (@iambeckyg) January 26, 2020
Unbelievable, RIP Kobe Bryant, life is so fragile, remember to show someone you love them if you do, you never know when it’s that time ❤️
— Boi-1da (@Boi1da) January 26, 2020
There are no real words to convey the depth of my sadness. Love and strength to Kobe’s entire family and to the families of all who were lost in today’s crash. pic.twitter.com/HvL2m9NXJU
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) January 26, 2020
I'm so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe
— John Legend (@johnlegend) January 26, 2020
He was great,charismatic & among the hardest-working athletes ever,but what impressed me most was how deeply-involved Kobe was with his 4 daughters. Pray for them, Vanessa, his parents & his fellow passengers' families on this sad and shocking day. We will never forget you Kobe
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) January 26, 2020
Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 26, 2020
I am completely speechless and devastated at the unexpected passing of my dear friend, @kobebryant. Kobe had a big heart and an even bigger love for the community of Los Angeles. Through his foundation, he changed the lives of so many people and families with his wife, Vanessa. pic.twitter.com/4zs4zcjcfe
— Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) January 26, 2020
I pray for his family, friends and fans. There will truly never be another one like you, Kobe.
— Paula Abdul (@PaulaAbdul) January 26, 2020
Kobe was a real life super hero on that court & I’m sure he was one to his family. Sending love and prayers to them. This is heartbreaking.
— Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me & my family. My deepest condolences to his family
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) January 26, 2020
I'm literally shocked. Sending prayers and love to Kobe's family, especially Vanessa and their four daughters.
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) January 26, 2020
This is heartbreaking. Rest In Peace Kobe.
— Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) January 26, 2020
Deeply shocked at the news of Kobe Bryant and four others lost today.
Sending all my thoughts to their families and loved ones in this devastating moment. https://t.co/1bgEhj2AhA
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 26, 2020
Unbelievably sad . Life is so fragile . Fucking crazy https://t.co/ZOIRMHcEjI
— PICTUREPLANE (@pictureplane) January 26, 2020
Rest In Peace KOBE pic.twitter.com/Efbm1bzI6g
— BRAINFEEDER (@BRAINFEEDER) January 26, 2020
— Dying Wish (@dyingwishhc) January 26, 2020
Fans have also gathered outside the Staples Center to mourn Kobe:
— Gadi Schwartz (@GadiNBC) January 26, 2020