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Kobe Bryant Killed in Helicopter Crash

TMZ Sports reports that the legendary basketball star and Oscar-winning writer and producer of the animated short, ‘Dear Basketball,’ died earlier this morning in Calabasas.

Updated 2:40 PM PST: Authorities are now reporting that a total of nine people were on board - the pilot and eight passengers. All were killed.

Updated 12:40 PM PST: Kobe's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, also known as GiGi, was also on board the helicopter and was killed in the crash. They reportedly were on their way to basketball practice at the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, a short distance north of Calabasis. 


Kobe Bryant, the legendary Los Angeles Laker basketball great who alongside famed animator Glen Keane, won an Oscar in 2018 for their animated short, Dear Basketball, was killed this morning along with four others in a helicopter crash on a hill in Calabasas, California. His wife, Venessa, was supposedly not on board.

As first reported by TMZ Sports and now several other outlets, firefighters responded to the crash and found no survivors on. Bryant for years had traveled around Los Angeles in his own private helicopter, including to games played at the downtown LA Staples Center arena.

In 2018, Bryant won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his hand-drawn 2D animated film, Dear Basketball, which he wrote and produced alongside legendary animator Glen Keane. The film beat out the MoPA short Garden Party, Pixar’s LOU, Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata’s Negative Space, and Magic Light Pictures’ Revolting Rhymes.

In accepting the award, Kobe said, “Thank you, Academy, for this amazing honor. Thank you, John Williams, for such a wonderful piece of music. Thank you, Verizon, for believing in the film. Thank you, Molly Carter, without you we wouldn’t be here. And to my wife Vanessa, our daughters Natalia, Gianna, and Bianka. Ti amo con tutto il mio cuore. You are my inspiration. Thank you so much, guys, thank you.”

Bryant’s production company, Granity, has been involved in a number of projects, including animated series, geared towards the intersection of sports and entertainment, with an emphasis on gender, ethnicity and background diversity. 

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.