Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, were among nine people killed when a helicopter crashed Sunday and then caught fire on a hillside in the Calabasas area.
A Calabasas city official confirmed to NBC that Kobe Bryant was among those killed in the 10 a.m. crash northwest of Los Angeles. Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and a teammate on her basketball team also were on board the helicopter, a city official said.
Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli also was among the victims, the school says. He had coached at the Costa Mesa college for more than two decades.
The sheriff's department did not identify the victims.
NBC 7 spoke with some fans playing basketball at the Pacific Beach Recreation Center after they learned the news.
“I’m still in shock, to be honest. Being from the Philly area, he’s a legend to us and it’s just like, extremely upsetting to hear,” fan Alex Martz said.
Martz is from Philadelphia who went to school in the same neighborhood as Kobe Bryant’s high school, Lower Merion High School.
“I actually went to college right across the street from where he played in high school, so I mean, it’s like, I don’t know. I’m at a loss for words, to be honest,” Martz said. “Kobe leaves behind such a massive legacy.”
Kobe Bryant created a wealth of memories, overcome a host of setbacks and reached a multitude of milestones during his 20-year NBA career. Bryant was also a five-time NBA champion and 18-time NBA All-Star.
NBC 7 was also at the last day of the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines when the tragic news broke out.
“It’s very sad and kind of interesting it happened after Lebron James passed his record in Philadelphia, and everyone was talking about it. And the next day he dies in a helicopter crash so, that’s really sad,” one fan told NBC 7.
Tiger Woods, who has known Kobe Bryant for over a decade, found out his longtime friend had tragically passed away.
Tiger Woods caddie, Joe LaCava, found out about Kobe Bryant's death early in the final round but he did not tell Woods until they were walking off the 18th and final green.
“I didn’t really understand why everyone was saying ‘Do it for Mamba.’” People yell things all the time and I was just plotting along and doing my own thing and when Joey told me that...," Woods said.
Woods, a southern California native, grew up a Lakers fan when he owned a home in Newport Beach, he and Kobe Bryant shared many early workouts together. They bonded over conversations about what it's like to be the best in the world at what they do.
"We really connected over the more mental prep, how much it takes to be prepared. The amount of hours that he spent in the gym in the offseason, and during the summer to work on shots. That's where me and him really connected because we were really similar," Woods said.
Pechanga Arena General Manager, Ernie Hahn released a statement saying:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of basketball great, Kobe Bryant. We had the honor of hosting him for our annual pre-season Los Angeles Lakers games at Pechanga Arena San Diego since his start in the NBA in 1996. He will be missed greatly and we send our condolences to his family, friends and the entire Los Angels Lakers organization."