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Basketball legend dies in helicopter crash

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US basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna are among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.

Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, were travelling in a private helicopter when it came down and burst into flames.

The LA county sheriff said there were no survivors.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, played for the LA Lakers throughout his career and is considered one of the greatest players in the game’s history.

Tributes from celebrities and fellow sports stars have been pouring in, many expressing shock at his sudden death.

Moments of silence have been observed at basketball games across the US.

Bryant has also been remembered at the Grammy Awards which are being held at the Los Angeles Lakers’ stadium.

“We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now,” said Grammys host Alicia Keys.

“Because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

 

The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others flew through thick fog, despite Los Angeles police grounding their own fleet, it has been revealed.

 

The private Sikorsky S-76 owned by the former Lakers basketball star was heading to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice when it crashed.

Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein confirmed their Air Support Division was grounded Sunday, adding: “The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying.”

 

A flight plan indicated the helicopter took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9.06am PST and the last signal was received from the aircraft at 9.45am. It was expected to land at San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte.

 

Flight data shows the aircraft appeared to get into trouble above the LA Zoo where it circled at a very low altitude and air traffic control audio suggests conditions were worsening in the run up to the crash.

 

Kobe Bryant

 

Bryant’s helicopter circled for a time just east of Interstate 5, near Glendale. Air traffic controllers noted poor visibility around Burbank, just to the north, and Van Nuys, to the northwest.

 

After holding up the helicopter for other aircraft, they cleared the Sikorsky S-76 to proceed north along Interstate 5 through Burbank before turning west to follow U.S Route 101, the Ventura Highway.

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