Kobe Bryant was traveling in a private helicopter when it burst into flames, according to media reports.
The LA County Sheriff’s department said five people died in the helicopter crash on Sunday, with no survivors.
Confirming the death, the City of Calabasas confirmed the news with “great sadness”. It said, “nobody on the ground was hurt”.
Eyewitnesses told news site TMZ they heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down.
The cause of the crash is being investigated.
Five-time NBA champion Bryant, 41, played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in April 2016.
Bryant’s achievements include being the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also a two-time NBA scoring champion and a two-time Olympic champion.
The smooth shooting guard, who patterned his game after Michael Jordan, entered the NBA straight out of high school in 1996. By his second season, he had earned his first of 18 all-star selections. By his fourth season, he had teamed with Shaquille O’Neal to win the first of three consecutive championships.
Although his partnership with O’Neal didn’t last, Mr. Bryant went on to greater heights after their 2004 parting. He won two scoring titles in the years that followed, and he famously scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the second-highest single-game total in NBA history. Mr. Bryant’s 2008 pairing with Pau Gasol produced two more championships in 2009 and 2010, with Mr. Bryant winning Finals MVP honors both times.
Mr. Bryant, who retired as the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points, was expected to be inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the first ballot this summer. He was a headlining member of a star-studded class that also includes Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
Kobe Bean Bryant was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 23, 1978. His first name was inspired by the high-end beef served at a local Japanese steakhouse, his middle name by the nickname given to his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, a professional basketball player who played with teams including the Philadelphia 76ers.
Mr. Bryant grew up in Italy, where his father played basketball for several years after leaving the NBA, and in suburban Philadelphia, where Mr. Bryant dominated as a high school athlete, leading his team to a state championship. Years later, according to the Orange County Register, stories circulated in the community of how he would practice in his driveway until midnight and beginning at 6 a.m. on snow days. Mr. Bryant entered the NBA immediately upon his graduation from high school in 1996, becoming one of the youngest players in the league’s history.