Today is a sad day for basketball. NBA great, champion and All-Star Kobe Bryant has died. According to TMZ, the 41-year-old has died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. There were reportedly three other people traveling with Bryant. His private helicopter reportedly crashed and a fire broke out. Five people perished in the fire. Bryant was known to travel in his private jet, his Sikorsky S-76 chopper throughout his career.
Bryant was 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Throughout his 19-year career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 25 points, five rebounds and four assists. He was known for having streaks of scoring 50 to 60 points but he amazed us all when scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on January 22nd, 2006. He won five NBA championships (2000,2001,2002, 2009, 2010), played in the NBA All-Star game 18 times, won two Olympic gold medals and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. He was the youngest player in history to join the NBA, as he was drafted at 17-years-old straight out of high school.
His passing comes a day after he was passed by Lebron James, a fellow Lakers player, for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. James paid tribute to Bryant before a game in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia, writing “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” on his sneakers before playing the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” James said according to ESPN. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling and it’s dope. Kobe’s a legend, that’s for damn sure.”
Bryant is now fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 33,643 points.
We send our condolences to the Bryant family.