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Kobe Bryant: Investigators work to determine crash cause

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Media captionHow Kobe Bryant’s hometown is mourning

US investigators are working to determine the causes of the helicopter crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant in California on Sunday.

There were no survivors from the crash which happened in foggy weather. Investigators are expected to focus on this and on any mechanical failures that may have occurred.

Nine people died in the crash, including Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.

He was considered to be one of the greatest players in the game’s history.

Tributes from fans and public figures have been pouring in from around the world.

Early on Monday morning, fans could be seen congregating at the makeshift memorial for the player in front of the Lakers’ stadium at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. ‎

Italy has said a minute’s silence would be observed at all basketball games “in every category for the entire week”. Bryant spent part of his childhood in the country as his father played in the Italian basketball league.

What will investigators focus on?

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are gathering in the area to launch separate crash investigations, reports say.

The federal agency has a team of about 20 people in LA and will work with the FAA, the helicopters’ manufacturer and the company that made its engine, the Washington Post reports.

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Media captionSite where basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash

The FBI is helping the NTSB’s staff document the scene, which is standard procedure, it added.

Conditions were foggy when the flight took off, and local police had grounded their helicopters due to the poor weather.

But air traffic controllers on Sunday gave the helicopter’s pilot special clearance to fly in less than optimal weather, CNN reports.

The aircraft – a Sikorsky S-76B – went down in a remote field in the city of Calabasas on Sunday morning at 10:00 (18:00 GMT), west of the city of Los Angeles.

Bryant had been on his way to coach his daughter’s basketball team in a local youth tournament.

He was known for taking his helicopter to beat traffic in Los Angeles.

Coroners have not officially named the victims.

Family members and colleagues however said John Altobelli, coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team, was among the passengers, along with his wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa – who played with Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.

Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Gianna’s school, was also on board, her husband wrote on Facebook.

US media have cited family tributes being paid to another victim, Sarah Chester, and her daughter Payton, who are said to have also been on board the helicopter; and Ara Zobayan has also been named as the pilot.

Why was Kobe Bryant so famous?

A five-time NBA champion, Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He retired in April 2016.

His achievements include being the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also NBA scoring champion twice and a two-time Olympic champion.

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Media captionWhen Bryant scored 60 points in his final LA Lakers game

He famously scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, the second-highest single-game total in NBA history.

He also won an Oscar for best short animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015.

Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, have three other daughters, Natalia, Bianca and Capri.

Bryant was accused of sexual assault in 2003 by a 19-year-old woman working at a Colorado resort. He denied the allegation, saying the two had consensual sex. The case was dropped after the accuser refused to testify in court.

He later apologised, saying he recognised that “she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did”. A subsequent civil suit was settled out of court.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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