Gianna 'GiGi' Bryant, 13, among nine victims of Calabasas helicopter crash
CALABASAS, Calif. - Rising 13-year-old basketball star Gianna Bryant and her dad, retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant, were among the nine victims killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning, officials said.
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The victims include eight passengers and the pilot. There were no survivors, Los Angeles County authorities said.
Gianna, who went by "GiGi," also loved basketball and was a force on the court. She played for the Los Angeles Lady Mambas, which was coached by her father.
GiGi, her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were all killed in the crash.
Alyssa's parents, Keri and John, Payton's mother, Sarah, and woman's basketball coach, Christina Mauser, were also aboard the luxury aircraft.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department received a call just before 9:45 a.m. about a potential helicopter down and a brush fire near the intersection of Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl L. Osby said in a news conference Sunday afternoon.
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Preliminary information reported there were three people dead at the scene before officials confirmed there were more victims.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was a Sikorsky S-76.
Shaquille O'Neal, a former teammate and longtime friend to the Bryant family, referred to Kobe as his "brother," and GiGi as his "niece."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement:
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
“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. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."
Gianna Bryant is survived by her mother, Vanessa, and three sisters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.