(LOS ANGELES, CA) – Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, a source told The Associated Press. It was unclear if family members were on the helicopter. The crash happened around 10 a.m. near about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said it was a Sikorsky S-76 and it was not known what caused the crash.
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 (at)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.
Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game.
Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players. After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening to Bryant when the superstar came to speak at a childhood basketball camp.
”I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” James said. ”There’s no substitution for work.”
James later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing.
”He had zero flaws offensively,” James said. ”Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot from mid-range. He could post. He could make free throws. … He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.”
Bryant was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life. He entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe ”Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally.
The Lakers acquired the 17-year-old Bryant in a trade shortly after Charlotte drafted him, and he immediately became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport alongside O’Neal, who had signed with the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest as an upstart rookie, and the Lakers gradually grew into a team that won three consecutive championships.
Bryant and Gasol formed the nucleus of another championship team in 2008, reaching three straight NBA Finals and eventually winning two more titles.
It’s being reported that his 13-year old daughter Gianna Bryant was also onboard. Allegedly, they were headed to a girls’ basketball tournament at Mamba Academy where she was playing and he was coaching.
Contributors: AP and Sytonnia Moore
(Atlanta, GA) – Roadside Attractions held an exclusive red carpet screening of the Atlanta-helmed film, The Last Full Measure at Scad on 14th Street. The movie, which opens in select theaters on Friday, January 24th stars Samuel L. Jackson as Veteran Takoda and Sebastian Stan as Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman.
‘The Last Full Measure’ tells the true story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger, a U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen medic who personally saved over 60 men. During a rescue mission on April 11th, 1966, he was offered the chance to escape on the last helicopter out of a combat zone heavily under fire, but stayed behind to save and defend the lives of his fellow soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, before making the ultimate sacrifice in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Thirty-two years later, respected Pentagon Staffer Scott Huffman, on a career fast-track is tasked with investigation a congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend and partner on the mission and his parents.
Huffman seeks out the testimony of Army veterans who witnessed Pitsenbarger’s extraordinary valor. But as Huffman learns more about Pitsenbarger’s courageous acts, he uncovers a high level conspiracy behind the decades long denial of the medal, prompting him to put his own career on the line to see justice for the fallen airman.
The movie was shot in Atlanta and serves as the last project for actor, director and screenwriter Peter Fonda.
(AP) — The Japanese billionaire who’s paying to be the first private citizen to fly around the moon wants company and the deadline to apply is this Friday. Yusaku Maezawa has set up a website to help find a woman with a desire for world peace to be his life partner.
The 44-year-old online fashion empire founder says applicants must also be single women who are over the age of 20, interested in going into space and preparing for it.
Maezawa’s looking for someone with “a bright personality” who “wants to enjoy life to the fullest.”
(Ponce, PR-AP) – More than two-thirds of Puerto Rico residents are still without power as the island continues to rebound from a series of earthquakes.
Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority said it had restored service to only a third of its one-point-five-million customers. Also, a quarter million people do not have running water because of no power at those plants.
The Trump Administration approved a federal disaster declaration request, which provides some money to deal with debris removal and help for families that lost their homes.
(Sydney-AP) — A prominent scientist believes more animals are dying in Australia’s bushfires than he originally thought. Chris Dickman now thinks more than one-billion animals have been killed in the fires.
That includes more than 800-million in New South Wales alone. The University of Sydney ecology professor first estimated the death toll would be under half a billion.
The fires have been burning for months, charring millions of acres of land and leaving at least two dozen people dead.
Twenty-four people have been arrested in connection with the fires including a teenage firefighter. Crews are fighting as many as 146-brushfires, 65-of which aren’t contained.
(Washington, DC-AP) – Democrats are angry that congressional leaders were not briefed before the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian military leader in Iraq.
Lawmakers are expected to get a classified briefing on the incident this week. The briefing will likely be conducted by CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Meantime, House Democrats are planning a vote this week on a war powers resolution aimed at limiting President Trump’s military actions on Iran. The House resolution would have little chance of passage in the Republican-led Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the airstrike endangered U.S. service-members and diplomats by “risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran.” The House resolution would have little chance of passage in the Republican-led Senate.
(AP) – Even after his divorce settlement, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is still the richest man in the world.
Bloomberg released its Billionaire Index for 2019 and Bezos was first with a net worth of 115-billion-dollars. Second was Microsoft founder Bill Gates at 113-billion.
The only other billionaire in triple digits is French businessman Bernard Arnault at 105-billion. Bezos gave up at least ten-billion-dollars of his fortune in a divorce settlement with his ex-wife.
Coming in fourth is investor Warren Buffett and fifth is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Eight of the top ten billionaires on the list are Americans.