The former Los Angeles Lakers star was traveling with at least 3 other passengers when his private chopper went down and caught fire. Emergency personnel rushed to the scene after being alerted but the fire made it difficult for them to save the victims. Five people were confirmed dead.
His wife Vanessa Bryant was not in the helicopter with him. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Kobe Bryant, who retired after the 2015 - 16 season, was survived by his wife. They shared four daughters. Their youngest one was born in June 2019.
Just hours before his death, Kobe congratulated fellow basketballer LeBron James as the latter climbed up to the third rank on the NBA all-time leading scorer. The spot was previously occupied by Kobe, but despite being moved down to the fourth place, he didn't hold a grudge.
"Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother," so he tweeted. On Instagram, he added, "On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next."
Kobe Bryant was placed fourth with 33,643 points after LeBron scored his 33,644th point at the recent game where the Lakers faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Condolences and prayers flooded the internet following Kobe's sudden passing. "I'm in shock! My heart goes out to vanessabryant & their children & also to the families of the other people who didn't survive. This hurts! We lost a legend," reality TV star Kandi Burruss tweeted.