Kobe Bryant Dies at 41: NBA Legend, Father, Longtime Swimming Fan

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died at age 41. The news was first reported by TMZ and has been confirmed by multiple media outlets. Bryant was a close friend (and business adviser) to Michael Phelps and made several appearances at major swimming events, including at the 2017 Golden Goggles Awards, USA Swimming’s annual awards banquet, and the 2018 US National Championships in Irvine. Five people are confirmed dead in the crash.

Update: the LA Sheriff’s department announced that there were nine people in the helicopter, not the originally-reported five. None of the passengers or the pilot survived.  

LIVE: Press Conference with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department:

Update: TMZ is also now reporting that representatives for Kobe have confirmed that one of his 4 daughters, Gianna Maria Onore, aka GiGi, was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash. She was 13. Kobe recently credited GiGi’s interest in the game as bringing him back to the sport of basketball. The pair were on the way to a basketball practice at the Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks when the helicopter crashed.

Bryant has had several interludes with the sport of swimming. He once made a visit to Australia where he spent time with Stephanie Rice and members of the Australian Olympic Team. He once famously lauded 3-time Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice, saying “I was lucky…I had the chance to see the best in the world prepare and she is FOCUSED.”

Bryant was a 5-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2008 NBA MVP, an 18-time NBA All-Star, and is the 4th-leading scorer in NBA history, recently being surpassed by Lebron James. Bryant was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team in 2008 and 2012. He also won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball.

The 41-year old Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016. He and his wife, Vanessa, gave birth to their 4th daughter in June of 2019.

Kobe Bryant made an appearance at the 2018 US Nationals alongside Michael Phelps. Courtesy of Torrey Hart/SwimSwam.com

Several swimmers have already posted tributes on social media, with more to come throughout the day. In France, the public is drawing comparisons to several French sportspeople who have died in helicopter crashes, including Olympic swimmer Camille Muffat, who won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 2012 Olympic Games. She died in a helicopter crash while filming a reality television show. Also on board that flight were boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud.



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9 months ago

RIP to the Black Mamba. Huge inspiration to those in the grind…

9 months ago

Shocked by this news. Can’t believe it. How everything is insecure in this life.

9 months ago

So incomprehensibly sad. Thoughts and prayers to his loved ones. So unexpected too, this will go down in history with the likes of JFK, Lennon.

Reply to  Swimfan01
9 months ago

SwimSwam voters confuse me at times…not sure why so many people voted negatively on a comment that aligned perfectly with unanimously-positive-voted comments.

That aside, I agree with the comparison. He is an American legend, and will forever be one. Just like we never forget Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Wilt Chamberlin, Mohammed Ali, and more, we will never forget Kobe Bryant.

Reply to  CollegeSwammer
9 months ago

its bc of the JFK part, its like: nah

2 Cents
Reply to  CollegeSwammer
9 months ago

Also, those mentioned JFK and Lennon were assassinated… this was not like that in that regard.

Reply to  2 Cents
9 months ago

they are Legends in their own right as well

Reply to  CollegeSwammer
9 months ago

JFK? Really? As someone who was alive when JFK was shot….umm, no.

Reply to  Cate
9 months ago

As someone who was alive when JFK was shot… umm, yes.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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