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Bryant pictured in 2019. SIPA USA/PA Images

Basketball star Kobe Bryant (41) and his 13-year-old daughter have died in a helicopter crash

Police and fire personnel are at the scene and an investigation is underway.

LAST UPDATE | 26 Jan 2020

US BASKETBALL LEGEND Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter have died in a helicopter crash in California, according to US media. 

The LA County Sheriff’s Department reported five people were killed in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas area of California. 

US news outlet TMZ reported that a fire broke out on the helicopter leading to the crash and reported that Bryant was on board at the time.

TMZ later reported that the basketball legend was travelling with three other people and his eldest daughter Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant, who was 13 years old, was also killed in the crash. 

The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, confirmed that Gigi was killed in the accident. 

Police and fire personnel are at the scene and an investigation is underway. Police have asked locals to avoid the area. 

Bryant married Vanessa Laine in 2001 and the couple have four daughters together. 

The 41-year-old played for the Lakers and became an 18-time NBA all-star before retiring in 2016.

Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 and lasted until his retirement in 2016. 

He also was a two-time Olympic gold medalist, helping spark the US squad of NBA stars to titles in 2008 at Beijing and 2012 at London.

In a tweet, former US president Barack Obama spoke of his sadness on hearing the news. 

He said: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. 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.”

Bryant grew up in Philadelphia where he attended school and began to make a name for himself as an upcoming and talented basketball player. 

His father, Joe Bryant was also a basketball player before he retired from the game and took up a coaching career. 

Tributes have begun to pour in from across the sports world, including from fellow Lakers basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, who expressed the “pain” he felt on hearing the news. 

“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother,” he tweeted.

“I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW [sic].”

US president Donald Trump also tweeted as reports emerged of Bryant’s death, describing it as “terrible news”.

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