The Associated Press is reporting that Kobe Bryant, former Los Angeles Lakers player and controversial sports figure, has died.
Bryant reportedly died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, a source told The Associated Press. It was unclear if family members were on the helicopter.
Bryant was 41 years old, and played with the NBA from 1996 until 2016, after being drafted right out of high school.
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Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”
Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault, but the charges were eventually dropped and a civil suit was settled out of court. During the case, Bryant retained the services of Pamela Mackey, who has recently defended criminal cases in Natrona County.
Bryant was born August 23, 1978; as the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant.
At 34 years and 104 days of age, Bryant became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points. He became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history on February 1, 2010 when he surpassed Jerry West.
Details surrounding Bryant’s death have not been released. This story will be updated.
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