Fellow sports stars and fans have paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore who have been killed in a helicopter crash in California this morning.
Alex Villanueva of the Los Angeles County Department confirmed that a total of nine people were on board the helicopter when it crashed.
"We have a manifest that indicates that there was nine people on board the aircraft, the pilot plus eight individuals."
It was earlier confirmed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department that five people were confirmed dead after the private helicopter went down on a hillside in Calabasas, California.
"Five people confirmed deceased, no survivors in #Calabasas helicopter crash. #LASD #Malibu deputies remain with #LA County Fire personnel. Investigation ongoing.
Avoid the area until further notice," it posted in a tweet.
Avoid the area until further notice.— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) January 26, 2020
The Lakers legend was on board a Sikorsky S-76, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The S-76 is used for VIP and emergency flights, and is described by manufacturers Lockheed Martin as a “smooth” and “reliable” model.
Its website says: “Since 1977, more than 875 S-76 aircraft have been delivered world-wide.
“The offshore mission accounts for 65% of the total flight hours accumulated fleet-wide to date. More than 10% of the fleet’s flight hours have been flown in the critical life-saving missions of search and rescue and helicopter air ambulance transportation.
“The S-76 is well-known for its work in VIP transportation and utility work. Today, it continues dependable service for all of these mission segments.
“More than 178 customers operate S-76 helicopters in a corporate or VIP role. Ten countries rely on the S-76 for the head of state mission.”
Bryant, who also won two Olympic gold medals, played for the Los Angeles Lakers throughout his 20-year NBA career before retiring in 2016.
Having announced his plans to retire in 2015, NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Bryant “one of the greatest players in the history of our game”.
He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008, was Finals MVP on two occasions and was an 18-time All-Star.
Both Kobe Bryant and his daughter were expected at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for noon today, according to CNN.
Gianna was expected to play in the game and Kobe Bryant was expected to coach, according to Lady Mavericks team director Evelyn Morales.
Fellow sports stars across the globe have remembered Bryant and paid tribute to his sporting achievements and 20-year career with the Lakers.
Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
We miss you already Kobe ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) January 26, 2020
Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
You brought something different to the game You was my Favorite Ni*** !!!! There will never be another BLACC MAMBA Love You bro !!!! @kobebryant 🙏🏾🙏🏾 This shit can’t be true IM SIC 😡😡 https://t.co/x9QckmE2bN— Desean Jackson (@DeSeanJackson10) January 26, 2020
Hard to believe we lost Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other people killed in the helicopter crash. Kobe was one of the greatest and most competitive athletes to ever play sports. My heart goes out to his wife, his three other daughters and the other families. So sad. pic.twitter.com/OmpqhBE3Me— Mack Brown (@CoachMackBrown) January 26, 2020
US president Donald Trump said in a tweet that the passing of Kobe Bryant was "terrible news".
Former president Barack Obama paid tribute to Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
"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," he posted.
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
Fans of the five-time NBA champion took to Twitter to offer their condolences following the news.
We have no words to express how shocked we are to hear of the tragic passing of one of the greatest sportsmen of all time and Rossonero fan, Kobe Bryant. All our thoughts are with the families of those affected by this tragic accident. You will forever be missed, Kobe 🙏❤️🖤 pic.twitter.com/FOd365chEL— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 26, 2020
I saw this a few weeks back & without knowing much about basketball but thought to myself what a cool father #KobeByrant was. So sad to think what can happen in the blink of an eye. Life is so precious, so fragile. pic.twitter.com/Gr6xDcc5ib— Niall McGarry (@MrNiallMcGarry) January 26, 2020
The Oscar winning animation based on the 2015 letter Kobe Bryant wrote in The Player’s Tribune announcing his retirement from basketball.pic.twitter.com/WyJ6vzL8il— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) January 26, 2020
Kobe Bryant with his daughter. I’m guessing this is how he’d want to be remembered. RIP https://t.co/wYoCgWZGFc— Mark Little (@marklittlenews) January 26, 2020
“Have a good time, enjoy life. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged.” - Kobe Bryant
Words to live by. 💛pic.twitter.com/2JZxvUpS7p— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) January 26, 2020
- with additional reporting from PA