Former NBA star Kobe Bryant, 41, died Sunday morning.
The ex-Los Angeles Laker died in a Calabasas, Calif., helicopter crash, first reported by TMZ Sports and confirmed by the L.A. County Sheriffs department.
During his 20-year NBA career, Bryant made 18 All-Star teams and won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one league MVP. A longtime Nike athlete, Bryant had a signature sneaker franchise called the Kobe. The popular sneaker inspired a celebration, called Mamba Day, held on Aug. 24, a reference to Bryant’s two on-court numbers, 8 and 24.
Following his retirement from the NBA in 2016, Bryant won an Academy Award in 2018 for “Dear Basketball” in the Best Animated Short Film category.
Officials have yet to confirm the names of the passengers onboard the helicopter in the Calabasas, Calif. crash. AP reports that nine people were killed in the crash.
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Among his many accomplishments, the athlete shared that his signature sneaker line with Nike will endure because at its core, his line of footwear is based on performance — not personality.
“What we’ve done is try to build a business that’s based on innovation and performance instead of an individual,” Bryant said, responding to a question from FN at the 2016 Variety and Sports Illustrated Sports and Entertainment Summit in Los Angeles.
“If it’s based on an individual and it retires, where does the brand go? I feel like we have built something that goes beyond the athlete. So far, consumers seem to love our product from a performance perspective, so I don’t see it changing much.”
After retiring from the NBA, Bryant focused on growing his media brand, Kobe Inc.
“I’m obsessed with what I’m doing now — I don’t play basketball anymore,” he said. “The important thing is finding out what you’re passionate about. For me, it’s storytelling. It’s hard after doing something for so many years; you are defined by what you do, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You have to reinvent and evolve.”
This is a developing story.
Here, see the memorial fans created outside the Staples Center to honor Bryant.
Nike’s Top Athletes Share Their Thoughts On Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant Wins Oscar for Best Animated Short — With Oprah’s Advice