• NBA legend Kobe Bryant was honored far and wide for his achievemens, both as a player and a philanthropist
  • President Donald Trump and Barack Obama send their condolences
  • Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash that killed Bryant and eight others

The legendary Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, two-time NBA MVP, two time Olympic Gold medal winner and 18-time NBA All-Star, died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, California at around 9:47 a.m. PT.

Among those killed in the crash, which took place on a foggy morning, were Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, and seven other people including the pilot. The cause of the crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and California aviation authorities.

"It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating," tweeted the Calabasas city government.

The first news reports on local and international media, including CNN and TMZ, quoted the death toll initially as four, including Bryant and his daughter. Later reports confirmed the correct death toll is nine.

The news website TMZ at first reported "Kobe was traveling with at least 3 other people in his private helicopter when it went down. A fire broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived. 5 people are confirmed dead. We're told Vanessa Bryant was not among those on board."

President Donald Trump responded to the tragedy only two hours after it took place, tweeting at 12:49 a.m. PT, "Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!"

Later on Sunday afternoon, Trump tweeted: "Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!"

Former president Barack Obama said Kobe "was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act."

He added that "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."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time NBA scoring leader, tweeted his heart-felt sadness, saying: "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."

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

"For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability."

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) said it’s "stunned and saddened by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant." It called Bryant's death "a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family."

People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant at LA Plaza
People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant at LA Plaza AFP / Frederic J. Brown