25 de septiembre de 2020
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US basketball star Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

International Sports Desk, Jan 26 (efe-epa).- United States basketball icon Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles, the National Basketball Association confirmed.

Bryant, 41, was traveling in his private helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames at around 10am.

The basketball star’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, a talented player in her own right, was also killed, the NBA said.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that nine people were on board the aircraft, while emergency personnel dispatched to the scene confirmed that there were no survivors.

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

The former Los Angeles Lakers great regularly used his private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to travel short distances.

Bryant and his wife Vanessa had four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and newborn Capri.

“There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant 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,” basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal tweeted.

Former US president Barack Obama tweeted: “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.”

"I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved Kobe - he was like a little brother to me," Michael Jordan said in a statement.

Bryant is considered to be one of the best NBA players of all time, playing on the All Star team 18 times during his 20-year career with the Lakers, retiring in 2016.

He was a first round draft pick in 1996 and won five NBA championship rings, two Most Valuable Player awards for the NBA final and was selected to be the league's MVP in 2008.

The Lakers retired Bryant's two jerseys - bearing numbers 8 and 24. He is the only player in the history of the LA team to have received that honor.

Bryant was born Aug. 23, 1978 in Philadelphia to Joe and Pamela Bryant, who named him Kobe after the type of high-quality beef they ate at a restaurant shortly before his birth.

His father played eight seasons in the NBA on such teams as the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and San Diego Clippers. After he retired, in 1984 the family moved to Italy - when Kobe was six - and lived there until 1991.

He attended high school in Philadelphia, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. At graduation, he was selected as 13th NBA draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Lakers.

In 1998, he was selected for the Western Conference All Star team, the youngest player at age 19 in the history of that competition.

With the Lakers under the coaching of Phil Jackson, along with teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant - playing guard - was key in helping the team win three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002. He won his first All Star MVP award in 2002.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual abuse, although finally the alleged victim - a 20-year-old woman - decided not to testify in court and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Between 2003-2004, the Lakers underwent many changes, including the departures of O'Neal and Jackson, and Bryant became the leader of the newly constituted team, along with the top NBA scorer with 27.6 points per game, on average.

In 2004, however, the Lakers were unable to make it to the playoffs.

In 2005-2006, Jackson returned to coach the Lakers and Bryant broke the team scoring record with 81 points in a home game against the Toronto Raptors.

In 2006, Bryant decided to change his jersey number from 8 to 24 and two years later, when Spain's Pau Gasol was already playing for the Lakers, he was chosen to be MVP for the season and the team got to the championship but lost to the Boston Celtics.

But the next two years, the team won titles, downing the Orlando Magic in 2009, with Bryant as MVP, and the Celtics in 2010, when he was selected MVP for the NBA finals for the second time.

With the departure for good of Jackson in 2010, the Lakers' fortunes went downhill and Bryant said in January 2013 that the team was old and slow.

In April 2013, Bryant injured his Achilles tendon and was out until December, but just 10 days later he injured his left knee and was out for the rest of the season.

In January 2015, he suffered a right shoulder injury that effectively ended his career, putting him on the injured list for nine months after which time he announced his retirement.

Nevertheless, on April 23, 2016, he played his last game, scoring 60 points in the Lakers' 101-96 defeat of the Utah Jazz, although the team had its worst season performance, with 17 wins and 65 losses.

Bryant also won two Olympic gold medals for the US basketball team, in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London. EFE-EPA

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