CALABASAS, Calif. (AP) - The former Lakers guard, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others are dead after their helicopter went down Sunday morning about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Authorities said that nine people were aboard the helicopter and presumed dead, after earlier putting the death toll at five. A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Bryant was among the victims, while another person with knowledge of the matter says his daughter, Gianna, also was killed.
Bryant won five NBA titles during a 20-year playing career spent entirely with the Lakers. He retired in 2016 as the league’s No. 3 all-time scorer and remained there until Lakers forward LeBron James passed him on Saturday.
Bryant was the league MVP in 2008, captured two scoring titles and earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
Reaction to the death of Bryant was swift and numerous. Michael Jordan gave a statement commending Bryant for his fierce competitive streak and called him “one of the greats of the game.” Larry Bird issued a statement saying Bryant was not only an icon in the sports arena, he was a man of the world and touched so many lives and communities in the most positive ways. Former President Barack Obama used Twitter to call Bryant “a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.”
NBA teams paid tribute to Bryant in several ways. The Nuggets held a moment of silence before tip-off against the visiting Rockets, with fans chanting, "Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!" right after. The Raptors and Spurs each allowed the 24-second clock to run out on purpose during their first possessions, in recognition of Bryant’s No. 24.
The Grizzlies won the opening tip against Phoenix and immediately took a 24-second clock violation. When the Suns took possession, they stayed in the backcourt for an 8-second violation — the 24 and 8 representing Bryant’s two numbers during his NBA career. The Trail Blazers and Pacers did the same in their game.
And Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says his team is retiring the No. 24 in honor of Bryant, saying his legacy transcends basketball.