Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in the helicopter crash at around 10am Sunday.
Gianna’s basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Alyssa’s parents John and Keri Altobelli, Payton’s mother Sarah Chester, girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan also died.
The private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter caught fire after it struck a hillside in Calabasas amid heavy fog.
Police confirmed their helicopters were grounded Sunday, as the weather ‘did not meet our standards’.
In air traffic control audio taken shortly before the crash the pilot is told he is ‘too low’ for radar tracking.
It is believed the group was headed to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice.
The cause of the crash is under investigation and witnesses say they heard the chopper engine ‘sputtering’.
Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters Natalia, Bianca and Capri.
He spent his entire 20-year career with the LA Lakers, winning five NBA championships before retiring in 2016.
News of his death sent shockwaves around the world as dozens of celebrities paid tribute on social media.
Kobe Bryant’s helicopter pilot was told he was ‘too low’ as he flew through thick fog moments before slamming into a hillside in a crash which killed all nine on board.
The NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died along with seven others yesterday when the Sikorsky S-76 (seen left) came down in Calabasas, California.
They had flown from John Wayne Airport near his home in Newport Beach and were on their way to Thousand Oaks to Bryant’s Mamba Basketball Academy when they crashed. The flight took off shortly after 9am. At around 9.20am, pilot Ara Zobayan circled above Burbank Airport for 15 minutes.
There are conflicting reports that he was trying to land at Burbank and that he was just held there because of it being busy. After around 15 minutes circling above Burbank, he flew off again towards Thousand Oaks.
Around 10 minutes later, seconds after being told he was ‘too low’ by a Socal approach air traffic controller, he crashed into a hillside. There was only one pilot on board, which an aviation source said it was unusual for the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter Kobe was in.
What exactly caused him to crash remains unconfirmed but ‘all the signs’ point to the pilot not being able to see where he was going and not using altitude monitoring instruments, the source added, instead relying solely on his eyesight.
Bryant was heading to the Mamba Academy he founded in Thousand Oaks to watch his basketball prodigy daughter.