Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas at age 41

By Eric Todisco
January 26, 2020 05:51 PM
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More details have been released regarding Kobe Bryant‘s tragic death.

On Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby and other authorities held a press conference to address the helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that claimed the life of Bryant, 41, as well as his daughter Gianna, 13.

“All survivors were determined to have been perished,” Osby said, adding it took authorities eight minutes to get to the crash site.

Villanueva confirmed a total of nine victims, the pilot and eight others, died in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the aircraft was a Sikorsky S-76.

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“Our firefighters on the scene indicated there was a debris-filled and steep terrain with quarter-acre brushfire,” Osby said. “Our firefighters hiked into the accident site with medical equipment and hose lines to extinguish the stubborn fire, as it included the brushfire debris from the helicopter. The fire also included magnesium which is very hard for our firefighters to extinguish because magnesium reacts with oxygen and water.”

At the time of the press conference, Villanueva said authorities were awaiting the arrival of the coroner’s office to “assist in the recovery of the remains,” adding that it is “entirely inappropriate to identify anybody by name until the coroner has made the identifications.”

Hours later, in a separate press conference on Sunday evening, Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, said the recovery of the bodies could take several days due to the rough terrain in the area, which was described as a “logistical nightmare” by Villanueva.

The crash is currently under investigation.

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Bryant was reportedly traveling in his private helicopter when it went down, according to TMZ. The outlet says that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not on board.

Spokespersons for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

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Since the start of his basketball career, Bryant, the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, was one of the most accomplished men in the NBA, having played all 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school in the 1996 draft, becoming the first guard ever drafted directly out school. During his time in the NBA, he went on to become an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team and 12-time All-Defensive team member. In 2008, he was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player. After losing the 2008 NBA Finals, Bryant helped lead the Lakers to championships in both 2009 and 2010, earning him the Finals MVP award.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee. Bryant admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with the accuser but maintained that it was consensual. The charges were eventually dropped and a civil suit was settled out of court.

At the age of 34, Bryant suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Though he recovered, he later suffered career-ending injuries to his knee and shoulder. Bryant retired after the 2015-2016 season, during which time he was still considered among the top players in the NBA.

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Until Saturday, he was the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points but was surpassed by LeBron James. James paid tribute to Bryant with special Nike shoes during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

After the game, Bryant congratulated James on his latest milestone.

“On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next,” the retired star shared on Instagram.

“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ?? #33644,” Bryant tweeted.