Kobe Bryant reportedly died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning. The basketball star was 41.
According to a website report, Kobe was traveling with at least three other people in his private helicopter when it went down. His wife Vanessa wasn’t on the trip. A fire reportedly broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived and five people are reportedly dead, the website noted.
The NBA legend played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He married former dancer Vanessa in 2001 and the couple had four kids, all daughters. Vanessa gave birth to their last girl in June. The couple had split up years ago, but later reconciled and seemed happier than ever.
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Kobe went through a slew of shocking scandals, as RadarOnline.com reported. Before his last game with the Los Angeles Lakers on April 13, 2016, Bryant was involved in a rape scandal that nearly destroyed his career and his marriage. He was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman on July 1, 2003 in his hotel room in The Lodge and Spa at Cordillera in Colorado. Kobe was arrested for the rape on July 4, 2003 and posted a $25,000 bond.
The world was shocked by his tearful press conference in which he denied the allegations with Vanessa by his side.
“You’re my backbone. You’re a blessing. You’re a piece of my heart. You’re the air I breathe,” Kobe told Vanessa as tears rolled down his face. “And you’re the strongest person I know.”
In 2004, the Kobe rape case was dismissed in Eagle, Colo., after prosecutors said the woman who had accused him of sexual assault was unwilling to testify, leaving the state no option but to drop all charges. Kobe weathered the scandal and emerged as a beloved elder of his sport.
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In his storied basketball career, Kobe won NBA championships with the Lakers five times—in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, and 2010. After retiring from basketball, Kobe dabbled in show business, doing a Dear Basketball short. He created another set of short films titled Canvas City featuring a purple puppet aka Little Mamba.
In 2018, when a fan asked if Kobe was going to return to basketball in the comments of an Instagram video Vanessa posted of herself in Cabo, she wrote that her husband didn’t want to play again and that they were just enjoying spending family time together.