Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and staunch supporter of the WNBA, was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday outside of out Los Angeles on Sunday. The news, first reported by TMZ, has been confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Bryant, 41, leaves behind wife Vanessa and three other children ranging in ages 17 to seven months: Natalia Diamante, Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe.
Update 5:30 p.m. ET: First responders in a press conference confirmed that nine bodies were recovered from the crash site. Prior reports stated that five people perished in the crash.
Bryant dies just one day after LeBron James eclipsed him on the NBA all-time leading scorer list.
WNBA leading scorer Diana Taurasi, nicknamed the “White Mamba” by Bryant who was known as the “Black Mamba,” told Swish Appeal in 2018 that she was honored to share “that Mamba blood” with Bryant.
“They don’t anoint people anymore,” said Taurasi. “They don’t put the sword on your shoulder anymore, [so] when they do you have to take it really serious. And I’ve taken it really serious.”
Of her relationship with Bryant, Taurasi said the two had “a deep understanding … without [having to be] Instagram buddies.” Taurasi has been a longtime critic of social media.
Bryant narrates a BODYARMOR commercial featuring Taurasi, praising her relentless work ethic and quest for “better.”
A staunch supporter of the WNBA, Bryant declared less than a week ago that Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne and Maya Moore have the “Mamba Mentality” to play in the NBA right now. He was one of the most vocal high-profile supporters of the women’s game.
This is a developing story.