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Kobe Bryant and daughter, 13, dead in helicopter crash

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In this July 26, 2018 file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif.
In this July 26, 2018 file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif.   -   Copyright  Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -   Chris Carlson
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Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

At a press conference at 2.40 p.m. local time in Los Angeles, the authorities confirmed the crash near Calabasas, California. They confirmed that there were nine bodies found in the wreckage.

Among those killed in the crash were John Altobelli, longtime head coach of Southern California's Orange Coast College baseball team, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant's daughter.

Christina Mauser, a girls' basketball coach at a Southern California elementary school, was also among them.

A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that Bryant was among the dead, and NBC news also confirmed that both the 41-year-old star and his daughter were killed.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said it was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash. The LA County Sheriff's Department confirmed five dead in the crash, but had not released identities.

Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California's notorious traffic. Even as a player, he often travelled to practices and games by helicopter, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his business ventures.

Colin Storm was in his living room in Calabasas when he heard ``what sounded like a low-flying airplane or helicopter.''

``Ït was very foggy so we couldn't see anything,'' he said. ``But then we heard some sputtering, and then a boom.''

A short time later the fog cleared a bit and Storm could see smoke rising from the hillside in front of his home.

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.

The world pays tribute to the Legend

After the announcement of the helicopter crash, many reactions came from all around the world to pay tribute to the basketball legend.

Lakers player Lebron James saluted his late friend and daughter: "thinking about the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had."

Other sports celebrities posted pictures and messages to honour the passing of the man known as Mamba, such as tennis player Novak Djokovic and football player David Beckham.

Former US President Barack Obama also shared on Tweeter a tribute to the man that inspired him his famous "Obama out".