Just Days Before Crash, Kobe Bryant Discussed His Future Plans In Final Interview. WATCH:
The following updates have been compiled from primary sources, including TMZ, who have been closely following the unfolding of events:
4:30 PM PT — L.A. weather was extremely foggy Sunday morning, and law enforcement sources told TMZ that LAPD air support was grounded because of it.
Flight tracker data shows Kobe’s chopper appeared to first encounter weather issues as it was above the L.A. Zoo, TMZ reports.
The helicopter circled that area at least 6 times at a very low altitude — around 875 feet — perhaps waiting for the fog to clear, the report added.
ESPN reported that a source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the pilot contacted air traffic controllers to say that he had begun a climb to “go above the layer” of clouds present.
“The chopper went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, after departing John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PT. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m,” ESPN added.
Audio reviewed by ESPN indicates that a few minutes prior to the crash, an air traffic controller told the pilot he was “still too low level for flight following,” meaning the aircraft was below the level at which it could be picked up by radar due to the area’s hilly terrain. That audio came from recordings posted on LiveATC.net, which has partial audio of the communication between the pilot and air traffic controllers.
Additional recordings between the pilot and air traffic controllers posted on the site indicate that the pilot was getting guidance from controllers as he navigated what was reported to be a dense morning fog.
2:40 PM PT — Officials say they believe 9 people were on board — 1 pilot and 8 passengers — and there were no survivors. Still unclear why the chopper crashed but an investigation is under way.
2:42 PM PT — Authorities say responders had to hike to get to the crash scene. When they finally got to the incident site, it was clear no one survived.
1:48 PM PT — Authorities near the crash site are about to hold a news conference, detailing the fatal incident. The start time has been pushed to 2:30 PM PT.
1:46 PM PT — Shaquille O’Neal just posted a tribute to Kobe … saying, “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie.” He continued, “I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!”
1:19 PM PT — TMZ obtained the dispatch audio in which you can hear the operator directing emergency personnel to the crash scene.
1:12 PM PT — Rick Fox’s attorney confirms the former Laker was NOT among those on board the helicopter, despite rumors that circulated suggesting he was. At least one of the other passengers HAS been confirmed, John Altobelli. He’s a baseball coach at Orange Coast College.
12:49 PM PT — President Trump just tweeted about Kobe’s death … saying, “Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!”
12:35 PM PT — Kobe’s daughter Gianna Maria Onore — aka GiGi — was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash … reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.
TMZ was told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.
ABC Los Angeles affiliate as well as TMZ is reporting that Kobe Bryant has died.
According to TMZ, the basketball star died in helicopter crash Sunday morning.
The NBA star was reportedly traveling with at least 3 other people in his private helicopter when it went down.
Emergency crews responded but nobody on board survived. Vanessa Bryant, wife of Kobe, was reportedly not on board.
More from TMZ:
Kobe Bryant died in a helicoper crash in Calabasas Sunday morning … TMZ Sports has confirmed.
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.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years — dating back to when he played for the Lakers. He was known for commuting from Newport Beach, CA to the STAPLES Center in DTLA in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper…
Kobe has recently been spotted out at NBA games with his daughter Gianna — a rising star basketball player herself. Their youngest daughter, Capri, was just born in June 2019.
Kobe is widely considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time — making 18 All-Star teams during his 20 year career with the Lakers. He was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft, winning 5 NBA championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs and he was the league MVP in ’08.
The Lakers famously retired both of Kobe’s jerseys, number 8 and 24 … the only player in team history to receive that honor.
Kobe’s accomplishments stand far outside of the basketball world. He won an Oscar for his short film, “Dear Basketball,” in 2018.
Last night, LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA all-time scoring list. LeBron shared some of his memories and best moments of Kobe yesterday: