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Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant dead in California helicopter crash

Former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant acknowledges the crowd during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — TMZ is reporting former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning.

He was 41.

Emergency crews responded after a helicopter crashed and sparked a small brush fire on Sunday in Southern California. The Los Angeles County Fire Department says the crash occurred in Calabasas.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said it was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash.

TMZ reports Bryant was traveling with at least three other people on the helicopter when it went down.  The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department confirmed five people were dead.

KABC-TV is also confirming the news.

His wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not on board.

Firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through dry brush.

Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.

Calabasas is a city of 23,000 people about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The San Antonio Spurs took a moment of silence during its Sunday afternoon game against the Toronto Raptors at AT&T Center.

The San Antonio Spurs have a moment of silence during its game against the Toronto Raptors on January 26, 2020, after learning of Kobe Bryant’s death. (Photo: KTSA/Chris Glasgow)

Reaction from the basketball world and beyond on the death of retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday at age 41:

“Kobe 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. His star was continuing to rise every day and he knew no limits because of his many intellectual and creative talents and desire to give back to others – his passion for the game, for his family and for others was apparent in everything he accomplished.” — NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird

“Jeannine & I are absolutely shocked to hear of the loss of one of my favorite people & one of the best basketball minds in the history of the game! Our hearts and prayers to Vanessa & his girls. @kobebryant you were my biggest fan, but I was yours. #RIPMAMBA” — NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell via Twitter

“Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well.” — actress Reese Witherspoon via Twitter

“As I tweet through my tears, I am so hurt. I cannot stop crying. Kobe was instrumental to so many people. There is a hole in the basketball world and there will be for a long time. Rest in heavenly peace.” — the Rev. Jesse Jackson via Twitter

“Today we at @WaltDisneyCo mourn the tragic loss of @kobebryant…a giant in sports and a person so full of life. Terrible news and so hard to process….” — Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney, via Twitter

“A true gladiator in our life time. You will be forever in our memories, our childrens memories, and generations to come.” — rapper Wyclef Jean via Twitter

“I’m at a loss for words. @kobebryant was a long-time friend, an inspiration and we shared our first ever commercial @espn together as professionals. I love you forever. #RIPMAMBA” — Retired NFL player Keyshawn Johnson

“Shocked by the death of @kobebryant, an exemplary athlete both on and off the basketball court. Our most heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest in peace.” — FC Barcelona football club via Twitter

“Kobe Bryant Rest in Peace. Unbelievable, unbelievably sad…” — NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas via Twitter

“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved.” — Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor, via Twitter

Here are some of the many highlights of Kobe Bryant’s career:

— 5-time NBA champion (2000-2002, 2009, 2010)

— 2-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (2009–2010)

— NBA MVP (2008)

— Academy Award winner for animated short film (2018)

— 18-time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2016)

— 4-time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)

— 11-time All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)

— 2-time All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)

— 2-time All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)

— 9-time NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2011)

— 3-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002, 2012)

— 2-time NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)

— 2-time Olympic gold medalist (2008, 2012)

— NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1997)

— NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)

— Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer (33,643 points)

— Naismith Prep Player of the Year (1996)

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Additional reporting from the Associated Press.

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