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    Kobe Bryant was “an outstanding and true Olympic champion,” IOC President Thomas Bach said Monday. The basketball great, who was killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday, helped the United States win Olympic gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games. Bryant also worked with the Olympic hosting bid for Los Angeles, the city where he won five NBA titles with the Lakers. When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympics, men’s basketball will be played at the Staples Center, where Bryant played with the Lakers. “He embraced the power of sport to change people’s lives,” Bach said in a statement published by the International Olympic Committee. “After retiring from the game he loved so much, he continued to support the Olympic Movement and was an inspiration for the Olympic Games LA 2028.” Bryant narrated the final filmed segment of the L.A. bid team’s presentation in July 2017. He was a member of the bid's board of directors. “There are so many different cultures represented here, so many different ethnicities represented here,” he said of Los Angeles in the video. “It’s an opportunity to learn no matter where you look.” The 41-year-old Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people who died in the crash in Calabasas in foggy weather conditions Sunday morning. “We will all miss his energy and his humble nature,' Bach said. 'Our thoughts are with his family and friends and all the other victims.” International basketball federation secretary general Andreas Zagklis described Bryant as a “sun in the basketball universe, shining on and off the court.” ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. With James Coley gone, how important will South Florida be to Georgia football? James Coley's time at Georgia has come to an end. On Friday it became known that he would be heading to Texas A&M to work on Jimbo Fisher's staff. The move has not been publicly announced yet but it shouldn't come as a surprise given Coley's past relationship with Fisher and the fact that Coley was demoted from his role as offensive coordinator. Related: Former Georgia football OC James Coley leaves staff, headed to Texas A&M Georgia brought in Todd Monken and named him offensive coordinator. The Bulldogs also brought in former Southern Miss offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner, though he's currently a support staffer. With Coley now at Texas A&M, there is an opening at quarterbacks coach that it would make sense for Faulkner to slide into. Coley's tenure as the offensive coordinator was not a successful one. Even though the Bulldogs won the SEC East and Sugar Bowl this past year, the offense struggled. Not all of that can be chalked up to Coley given the issues Georgia had at wide receiver and Jake Fromm's struggles, but it does fall at the feet of Coley. But for all of the complaints, you might have about his on-field results, Coley brought a lot to the program. And perhaps there was no greater impact than how Coley was able to help Georgia recruit south Florida. Coley had strong ties to the area and Georgia greatly benefitted because of it. The Bulldogs have landed a number of contributors from that part of the world, such as James Cook, Tyson Campbell, Tyrique Stevenson and Divaad Wilson to name a few. In the 2020 class, Georgia pulled 4-star wide receiver Marcus Rosemy from the area. With Coley now gone, it's going to be interesting how well Georgia is able to recruit in that region. Obviously Smart and the Bulldogs have shown that they can recruit nationally, but it won't be quite so easy do so now in an area where Georgia has had a lot of recent success. South Florida is one of the few areas in the country that can rival the metro Atlanta area in terms of the number of elite prospects that are produced on an annual basis. And Georgia isn't going to just stop trying to recruit the area now that it doesn't have Coley on staff. But it's undeniable that Coley made things much easier for Georgia in that part of the country. And while replacing him as an offensive coordinator might not be all the difficult from a statistical standpoint, Georgia's 2020 team would be worse off if it didn't have some of standouts from South Florida. And Coley is just as responsible for those players as he is for the offensive struggles in 2019. Georgia football players show impact of Kobe Bryant's legacy Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant tragically passed away on Sunday following a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter and seven others. Bryant was just 41 years old. His 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers included countless iconic moments to go along with five titles. He was a league MVP and easily one of the best to ever play the sport of basketball. But Bryant's impact stretched far beyond the game of basketball. His 'Mamba Mentality' and willingness to win at any cost inspired countless individuals. Even to someone who doesn't understand why Bryant was a great two-way player, anyone who watched him play could understand his grit and toughness was something to try and emulate. Given Bryant's career apex took place when many recent Georgia football players were able to watch and appreciate his greatness, the news rocked a number of individuals. And they took to social media to react and respond to the tragic news of Bryant's passing. pic.twitter.com/lFNuQ5yYOJ Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) January 26, 2020 Speechless!! RIP THE KING Zamir White (@zeus1_34) January 26, 2020 Smh life too short man Cherish the ones you love R.I.P Kobe SWIFT7 (@DAndreSwift) January 26, 2020 LUV Mamba Red Panda (@_LayZay_) January 26, 2020 Wow just wow https://t.co/3GoDNoFcsW Eric Stokes Jr (@_jamane_) January 26, 2020 And I wasn't even a Kobe fan https://t.co/zfuSVZHQ4o David Marshall (@DMarsh_51) January 26, 2020 R.I.P to Kobe and Gianna This hit hard, words can't describe! Prayers to the family and friends We need to appreciate and love the ones we are around! Life is so short pic.twitter.com/cgHfMSIZ8J Mecole Hardman Jr. (@MecoleHardman4) January 26, 2020 use to rock the #24 in HS with the one half sleeve that came up to the elbow like 10' Kobe- damn man DB17 (@DavinBellamy17) January 26, 2020 man my idol just died @kobebryant change my life man!!!! DB17 (@DavinBellamy17) January 26, 2020 The coldest competitor I've ever witnessed & forever my favorite athlete. RIP Mamba Keith Marshall (@Truthh4) January 26, 2020 Bryant was incredibly divisive at times but just based on the social media reaction from yesterday's tragic news it's clear the way he went about playing the game of basketball, and life, was something that everyone appreciated and tried to replicate. Whether it be mashing your teeth together while trying to push through something, or shooting a sheet of paper at a trash can while letting out a 'Kobe!' Bryant's impact goes far beyond the NBA. 'You grow up watching him, he just means so much not only to the game of basketball but to the game of women's basketball,' Georgia women's basketball coach Joni Taylor said on Sunday. 'He was a fan, he was at the Final Four, his daughters played. 'He supported college basketball, the WNBA, all levels. He was a champion for us.' Related: Kobe Bryant death draws strong reactions from hall of famer Dawn Staley, Georgia's Joni Taylor Georgia football coach Kirby Smart also sent out a tweet commenting on the tragedy. Prayers go out to the Bryant family and all those affected by today's tragedy. One of the greatest competitors ever. Kobe is leaving quite the legacy both on and off the court #8 #24 Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) January 27, 2020 Bryant truly was a GOAT. You don't accomplish the things he did in this life, both on and off the court, without being one. He meant so much to so many people and changed the way athletes across all sports play and compete. He so clearly inspired so many in this world, including a number of great Georgia athletes. More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football podcast: Examining how Todd Monken might use Zamir White and UGA's RBs An early enrollee has apparently already made an impression at UGA Georgia's Malik Herring rated top returning D-lineman in SEC, spearheads dominant front Anthony Edwards struggles against Ole Miss, Georgia basketball hits three-game skid Georgia football changes continue, another staff member leaves for Texas A&M Georgia offense flipping script: Terry Bowden's thoughts on drop-back to dual-threat transition Dawgs on Twitter Had a great time down in Athens !! #ATD pic.twitter.com/y0oTIAdViR Daran Branch (@say_brant) January 27, 2020 great visit @GeorgiaFootball @CamLemons_UGA @Coach_Hankton pic.twitter.com/0YxIHHzog1 (@HallAgiye) January 26, 2020 Hope this crew ends up at UGA @tateratledge22 @millionairemov3 @LXIII_NOVA pic.twitter.com/TAEaEUeSjn Dean Ratledge (@dratledge81) January 25, 2020 Dawgs on Twitter Next pup up at Butler! Blue IV, who will replace retiring Blue III, was introduced on Friday and he is adorable pic.twitter.com/ZcN6f8LE9D ESPN (@espn) January 25, 2020 The post Following James Coley departure, we'll learn a lot about the importance of South Florida to Georgia football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. REMEMBERING KOBE BRYANT NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others died after their helicopter went down in Southern California. 2. A GLOBAL INSPIRATION Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with both his sublime skills and his unquenchable competitive fire. 3. CHINA OUTBREAK CONTINUES TO GROW China extended its Lunar New Year holiday three more days to discourage people from traveling as it tries to contain the spread of a viral illness that has caused 80 deaths. The National Health Commission said 2,744 cases had been confirmed by midnight Sunday. 4. IMPEACHMENT CASE CONTINUES President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is entering a pivotal week. His defense team resumes its case on Monday and senators face a critical vote on whether to hear witnesses. 5. BOLTON’S BOOK SPURS DEMOCRATS Excerpts from former Trump national security adviser John Bolton’s book have leaked out, including claims from Bolton that Trump wanted to maintain a freeze on military assistance to Ukraine until it launched political investigations into his Democratic rivals. 6. BILLIE EILISH DOMINATES GRAMMYSAt just 18, Billie Eilish made history at the Grammy Awards, becoming the youngest person to win one of the top Grammys — record, song and album of the year, and best new artist — and the first to sweep all four since 1981. 7. ONE WEEK TO IOWA The fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is raging across Iowa as the party's leading candidates and their allies are delivering closing arguments that focus on who's best positioned to defeat Trump. 8. THE POWER STRUGGLE INSIDE IRANThe shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Iran, killing 176 people, has revealed wider woes facing the Islamic Republic. It highlights the limits of the civilian arm of Iran's government against the absolute power held by the nation's Shiite theocracy and the paramilitary forces beneath it. 9. WHO IS VISITING THE WHITE HOUSE Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington on Sunday night, vowing to “make history” as he prepared to meet President Donald Trump for the unveiling of the administration's much-touted plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 10. SURVIVORS RETURN TO AUSCHWITZ The 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is being commemorated at the site of the former Nazi German death camp.
  • In the country where he grew up, Kobe Bryant will be mourned for an entire week. The Italian basketball federation said Monday it has ordered a minute's silence to be observed for all games “in every category for the entire week.” “It’s a small but heartfelt and deserved gesture to honor the life and memory of Kobe Bryant, an absolute champion who always had Italy in his heart,” the federation said. “Kobe was and will always be linked to our country.” Bryant lived in Italy between the ages of 6 and 13 while his father, Joe Bryant, played for several teams in the country. He returned to Pennsylvania for high school. Kobe Bryant spoke fluent Italian and often said it would be a “dream” to play in the country. That dream almost came true when Bryant nearly joined Virtus Bologna in 2011 during an NBA lockout, only for the deal to fall apart. “We’ve lost a friend,” read a front-page headline in the Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s leading sports newspaper. Bryant, an 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died Sunday with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California. He was 41. “All of the NBA players are important, because they’re legends, but he’s particularly important to us because he knew Italy so well, having lived in several cities here,” Italian federation president Giovanni Petrucci told The Associated Press late Sunday night. “He had a lot of Italian qualities,' Petrucci added. “He spoke Italian very well. He even knew the local slang.' Pistoia, one of the teams that Joe Bryant played for, tweeted a message with a picture of Kobe Bryant during a recent trip to the Tuscan town. “We saw him play at the PalaCarrara during halftime of his father Joe’s games,” Pistoia said. “He had a strong bond with the city of Pistoia and it was just a few years ago that he came to pay us a visit. May the earth rest lightly on you #Kobe.” Italian coach Ettore Messina worked with Bryant as an assistant for the Lakers. “He was a supernatural,” Messina told the AP late Sunday while traveling with his current club, Olimpia Milano. “To hear him speak and joke in our language and to remember when his father played here and he was a kid drew a lot of people to the NBA,” Messina said. “He was also always very attentive to help Italian kids arriving in the NBA and to help them enter such a tough and competitive world. He also did that with me when I arrived at the Lakers and I’m still very grateful to him for that. It’s very sad that his family has been devastated like this.” ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf
  • Nick Kyrgios wore a Lakers No. 8 jersey to honor Kobe Bryant ahead of a fourth-round match against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, paying his respects without needing to say a word. The 15-year-old Coco Gauff had Bryant's numbers 8 and 24, along with the inscription 'Mamba Mentality,' on her shoes in a doubles match at Melbourne Park. Bryant's sudden death in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, has shocked and upset fans and athletes around the world. Kyrgios, a big NBA fan who often wears basketball jerseys while practicing, wore a Bryant jersey from the locker room, through the corridor of champions, and into the warm-up on Rod Laver Arena on Monday. He took it off before play began against top-ranked Nadal. Fans in the crowd wore Bryant jerseys with the numbers 8 or 24. Australian Open organizers also played a short video tribute to Bryant ahead of the match, one of the most anticipated encounters in the two-week, season-opening major. Darren Cahill, who coaches two-time major winner Simona Halep and works as television analyst for ESPN, said he 'felt sick' when he woke up to news of Bryant's death. “Certainly I looked up to what he used to do as an athlete, as a professional, an incredible basketball player,' Cahill said. 'And especially his daughter passing away, as well. I couldn't think of anything worse. My two kids are here. They are 18 and 15. I could not get my head around that.' Former Australian player and TV commentator Rennae Stubbs said she knew Bryant was a big tennis fan. “We saw Kobe a lot at the U.S. Open”— he was there a lot last year,' Stubbs said. “He was on the ESPN set many times. He commentated half of Coco Gauff's match with our team. We saw him around. I saw him talking to Serena after one match. “A terrible day for sport. He's one of the great, great champions.” Gauff lost in the fourth round at the U.S. Open last year and beat defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka here before losing in the fourth round at Melbourne Park to fellow American Sofia Kenin. She was still in contention in the doubles with another U.S. teeanger, Caty McNally on Monday. Gauff and McNally both wrote inscriptions on their tennis shoes for their match. Wimbledon champion Halep woke up to the news. “It's a huge loss for the world, for the sport ... for the family,' she said. Other players were affected. “It was really tough this morning. You know, is the first thing, you know, when I woke up, bunch of messages. Definitely when I found out that, I was really, really sad, because it was someone that for sure I was looking up growing up and someone very special,' 10th-seeded Gael Monfils said after his loss to Dominic Thiem. “To be honest with you, really devastated by that, because it means quite a lot for me. All my thoughts and prayers for his family.' ___ More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Orlando Magic (21-26, seventh in the Eastern Conference) vs. Miami Heat (31-14, third in the Eastern Conference) Miami; Monday, 7 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Orlando is looking to end its three-game losing streak with a victory over Miami. The Heat are 6-2 against opponents in the Southeast Division. Miami averages 15.6 turnovers and is 21-7 in games when losing the turnover battle. The Magic are 14-12 against conference opponents. Orlando is 17-7 when outrebounding opponents and averages 45 rebounds per game. The teams square off for the second time this season. The Magic won 105-85 in the last meeting on Jan. 3. Terrence Ross led Orlando with 25 points, and Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points. TOP PERFORMERS: Duncan Robinson leads the Heat averaging 3.3 made 3-pointers and scoring 11.9 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from beyond the arc. Meyers Leonard is shooting 48.8 percent and averaging 6.4 points over the last 10 games for Miami. Evan Fournier has averaged 19 points and 2.6 rebounds for the Magic. Nikola Vucevic has averaged 20.5 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent over the last 10 games for Orlando. LAST 10 GAMES: Heat: 6-4, averaging 117 points, 43.7 rebounds, 26.7 assists, 5.2 steals and four blocks per game while shooting 49.4 percent from the field. Their opponents have averaged 113.9 points on 46.2 percent shooting. Magic: 4-6, averaging 105.5 points, 45.8 rebounds, 21.9 assists, 8.6 steals and four blocks per game while shooting 43.2 percent from the field. Their opponents have averaged 107.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting. INJURIES: Heat: Kendrick Nunn: day to day (achilles), Jimmy Butler: day to day (ankle), Justise Winslow: out (back), Bam Adebayo: day to day (ankle), Goran Dragic: day to day (calf). Magic: Jonathan Isaac: out (knee), D.J. Augustin: out (knee), Al-Farouq Aminu: out (right knee). ___ The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.
  • The most compelling drama in the NFL this season unfolded on the field, not off it. And any thought that the league was in jeopardy of losing its spot as America's favorite sport has been set on the back burner, which is mostly where the domestic abuse cases, national anthem controversies and even the concerns about player safety resided for the bulk of the season. To be sure, 2019 was far from perfect. Antonio Brown, a handful of overmatched officials and even a cameo appearance by Colin Kaepernick kept a spotlight on the warts this behemoth of a league will always carry. And certainly the Super Bowl will offer an opportunity to discuss Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill's history with domestic violence and the NFL's response to it. But for the better part of the season, the stickiest topics have included the quarterback-slash-pitchman, Baker Mayfield, and his overrated Cleveland Browns, the underachieving Cowboys, and the possible end of the Patriots' dynasty, to say nothing of a legion of rising young stars who were scattered throughout the league. It is led by Patrick Mahomes, the 24-year-old quarterback who brought the Chiefs to the Super Bowl to face the 49ers, the team trying to complete the NFL's version of a fairy tale by going from 4-12 to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the span of a year. America's ever-expanding gambling landscape, the continued strength of fantasy football, the league's steady growth in Britain and other countries, along with a fair share of good games placed in the correct time slots and made available on a growing number of platforms also played roles in keeping eyeballs focused on the games. It all helps explain the league's back-to-back 5% TV ratings increases — two straight years with an uptick after a two-year stretch (2016-17) during which the NFL's status as the king of American sports took a hit, due in part to President Donald Trump's withering criticism and, more broadly, to the league's problematic handling of a myriad of problems that came fast and furious. The league accounted for 47 of the 50 most-watched shows on TV last year. “The NFL is in a better space leading up to the ... Super Bowl, than they have been in a few years,” says Bettina Cornwell, the academic director at University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “Less limelight can be a good thing.” While staying out of the constant crisis-management loop, the league took advantage of trends that have been evolving for a decade or more. The NFL's embrace of fantasy football at the beginning of the 2000s — replete with in-stadium Wifi advances, stat-heavy tickers and updates that permeate the telecasts and both league and team endorsements with fantasy websites — set a template that, in turn, positioned the league to take advantage of the more recent expansion of legalized gambling. Long the most reluctant (and hypocritical) of the American pro leagues when it came to acknowledging the reality that gambling is a key driver of fan interest, the NFL signed a marketing deal with Caesars Entertainment at the start of 2019. A handful of teams have inked their own casino deals, as well. Next season, the Raiders are moving into a $1.8 billion stadium in Las Vegas — a city NFL officials worked hard to keep at arm's length for decades. “They were probably the last one at the table, but they took the most in from what other leagues are doing,” marketing expert Joe Favorito said. “They're doing it with fan engagement on mobile phones, games that give fans ability to win money or prizes, games where it's as easy as trying to predict what's going to happen on the next play.” This season also marked the beginning of a changing of the guard, of sorts, among the star set. Mahomes dethroned Patriots QB Tom Brady as the league leader in jersey sales, according to the NFLPA. Seven of the top 12 on the jersey list, including Mayfield, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Giants running back Saquon Barkley, were 26 or younger. Only four of the top 10 were quarterbacks — a lower-than-usual number that could be a subtle signal of a generational shift in the fan base. With one year left before the end of the current collective-bargaining agreement, there appears to be far less friction between the league and its union than last time they reached this point, in 2010. And if the tacit acceptance of gambling felt like a seismic shift, the next contract could bring another: Last year, the league and union announced the formation of a committee to study and assess alternatives to painkillers — a signal that a long-sacrosanct ban on marijuana could soon be relaxed. All of which bodes well for the league as it approaches the end of its current TV contract. The $1.9 billion-a-year deal with ESPN for Monday Night Football expires after the 2021 season, and the approaching deadline brings with it the possibility that the league might want to open up bidding on all its contracts for a full reset. No surprise, then, that among the thorniest issues in the new CBA will be the NFL's desire to add a 17th regular-season game and the players' hard stance against it because of the health concerns it presents. “Questions about the next round of (TV) negotiations have already become an overhang for many of our media companies, as investors debate which package will end up where and at what cost,” the analysts at the media research group MoffettNathanson wrote in a September newsletter. During the season, the NFL accounts for 25 percent of ESPN's and CBS' aggregate gross ratings points and 24 percent of NBC's, the analysts wrote — a sign of the outsize impact the NFL has on an ever-splintering TV landscape. All the attention-shifting choices out there for U.S. sports fans only increase pressure on the NFL to keep its house in shape — and to be sure, there are still plenty of festering issues that could derail it. — This year's officiating was widely regarded as below-par, in large part hampered by the league's new pass interference rule that allows calls and non-calls to be reviewed; it created confusion across the board and didn't necessarily solve any big-picture problems. — The NFL is still grappling with how to make its game safer in the wake of an epidemic of head injuries that has forced rules changes and is chipping away at the sport's grass roots in key areas. — The league continues to struggle in how it vets and disciplines its players, as illustrated by the ongoing cases involving Brown (cut by the Patriots after being accused of rape) and Hill (not disciplined by the league after authorities declined to charge him with domestic abuse). — Kaepernick, whose hastily scheduled and relocated “workout” in November turned into a circus that brought everyone's intentions into question, has not disappeared. Nor has the cause he promoted — a greater spotlight on social justice and police violence against African-Americans. — Next season will also take place during an election year. It was the Trump vs. Hillary Clinton race, along with Trump's disdain for the league in the wake of the national-anthem controversy fueled by Kaepernick, that got some (deserved) credit for some of the NFL's diminished popularity in 2016 and 2017. “A fun Super Bowl matchup, betting and international games may drive interest and opportunity,” Cornwell said, “but big issues continue to percolate.”
  • The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed into a rugged hillside outside Los Angeles was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers. The helicopter plunged into a steep hillside at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday with an impact that scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and killed all aboard. The accident unleashed an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world who mourned the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Thousands of fans, many wearing Bryant jerseys and chanting his name, gathered outside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Lakers and site of Sunday's Grammy Awards where Bryant was honored. The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game’s most popular players and the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers. The cause of the crash was unknown, but conditions at the time were such that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff's department grounded their helicopters. The Los Angeles County medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, said the rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. He estimated it would take at least a couple of days to complete that task before identifications can be made. Bryant’s helicopter left Santa Ana in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m. and circled for a time just east of Interstate 5, near Glendale. Air traffic controllers noted poor visibility around Burbank, just to the north, and Van Nuys, to the northwest. After holding up the helicopter for other aircraft, they cleared the Sikorsky S-76 to proceed north along Interstate 5 through Burbank before turning west to follow U.S Route 101, the Ventura Highway. Shortly after 9:40 a.m., the helicopter turned again, toward the southeast, and climbed to more than 2000 feet (609 meters). It then descended and crashed into the hillside at about 1400 feet (426 meters), according to data from Flightradar24. When it struck the ground, the helicopter was flying at about 160 knots (184 mph) and descending at a rate of more than 4000 feet per minute, the data showed. The chopper went down in Calabasas, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks was holding a basketball tournament on Sunday. Federal transportation safety investigators were on their way to the scene. Among other things, they will look at the pilot's history, the chopper's maintenance records and the records of its owner and operator, said NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy at a news conference. Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said the crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues. “The likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft — it just doesn’t happen,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Justin Green, an aviation attorney in New York who flew helicopters in the Marine Corps, said pilots can become disoriented in low visibility, losing track of which direction is up. Green said a pilot flying an S-76 would be instrument-rated, meaning that person could fly the helicopter without relying on visual cues from outside. The National Transportation Safety Board typically issues a preliminary report within about 10 days that will give a rough summary of what investigators have learned. A ruling on the cause can take a year or more. Colin Storm was in his living room in Calabasas when he heard what sounded to him like a low-flying airplane or helicopter. 'It was very foggy so we couldn’t see anything,” he said. “But then we heard some sputtering and then a boom.” The fog cleared a bit, and Storm could see smoke rising from the hillside in front of his home. Firefighters hiked in with medical equipment and hoses, and medical personnel rappelled to the site from a helicopter, but found no survivors, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said. News of the charismatic superstar's death rocketed around the sports and entertainment worlds, with many taking to Twitter to register their shock, disbelief and anguish. “Words can't describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me,' retired NBA great Michael Jordan said. “We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.' Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific shot-maker with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him for third place during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams. He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to consecutive NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. His Lakers tenure was marred by scandal when in 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He said the two had consensual sex, and prosecutors later dropped the felony sexual assault charge at the request of the accuser. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court. Bryant went on to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010, and retired in 2016. Among those killed in the crash were John Altobelli, 56, longtime head coach of Southern California's Orange Coast College baseball team; his wife, Keri; and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant's daughter, said Altobelli's brother, Tony, who is the sports information director at the school. Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley tweeted that the dead also included Christina Mauser, a girls basketball coach at a nearby private elementary school. Her husband, Matt Mauser, founded the Tijuana Dogs, a popular Orange County band. In a Facebook post he said: “My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash.” ___ Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and John Antczak in Los Angeles, David Koenig in Dallas, Tim Reynolds in Miami and Michael Rubinkam in northeastern Pennsylvania contributed to this report.
  • From the red carpet to the main stage, sadness loomed over music’s biggest night Sunday at the arena in downtown Los Angeles where Kobe Bryant played for 20 years for the city's NBA team. Bryant's death in a helicopter crash earlier in the day was acknowledged in the opening minutes of the Grammys broadcast. Before her performance, Lizzo said, “This is for Kobe.” She went on to perform “Truth Hurts” and “Cuz I Love You.” Host Alicia Keys said she was feeling “crazy sad” about Bryant. She was joined on stage with Boyz II Men, who collectively sang “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” “The whole wide world lost a hero,” the singer said in front of the audience. “We are standing her literally heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.” Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in the crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California. He was 41 and had retired from the Lakers in 2016. Some shed tears for Bryant on the red carpet. Others were almost speechless ahead of the 62nd annual awards show. Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion. Debbie Allen, who is married to former Laker Norm Nixon, was seen crying. DJ Khaled said the news about Bryant's death was “devastating.” He took part in a tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle that also included John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG. They performed “Letter to Nipsey' and “Higher.' At the end of the performance, each performer turned around and pointed toward a screen with a picture of Hussle and Bryant. The tribute prompted a standing ovation that lasted for more than a minute. “Long live Nip. Long live Kobe Bryant. Long live Gianna. The marathon continues,' Khaled said. Tyler, the Creator said he went through different emotions. “The news was heavy, especially being in LA and being near the Staples Center within a short period of time between him and Nipsey,” he said backstage after winning best rap album. Hussle, who was known for being a huge Lakers fan, was shot and killed 10 months ago in Los Angeles. “If you’re from Los Angeles, depending on which sector you’re in, that (expletive) is really heavy,' the rapper continued. “We took an L tonight. Rest in peace to Kobe. We also took a win just being from Los Angeles. It’s mixed emotions.” Cyrus had No. 24, Bryant’s number, on his guitar, and Lil Nas X had a Bryant jersey draped over a chair at the beginning of their performance of “Old Town Road.” Run-DMC member Joseph “Run” Simmons held up a white Bryant Jersey during the group's performance of “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. Ross remembered a brief conversation he had with Bryant that involved him admiring the NBA star’s craft. The rapper said the game would miss him. “It's just a huge loss to the game,” Ross said on the red carpet. “He was a great example on a lot of different stages.” Singer Charlie Wilson called Bryant a “beautiful soul” and “one of the greatest who played the game.” Hit-Boy, who won a Grammy with Hussle and Roddy Ricch for best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle,” said he was not going to attend the awards when he learned about Bryant’s death. But the producer said he decided to stick it out in deference to several relatives who were joining him. “I was two seconds away from just canceling everything,” Hit-Boy said. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who knew Bryant personally, said he felt horrible but also learned a lesson. “I hope everyone. ... gives their loved ones a hug and a kiss,” Kraft said. “Don’t take anything for granted. We should pinch ourselves and make sure we remember those we care most about.' Outside Staples Center, fans wearing Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys flocked to the arena to show their respect for the Laker legend. A few hundred people gathered at L.A. Live in front of a mega screen with a smiling Bryant that read, “In Loving Memory of KOBE BRYANT 1978-2020” Smokey Robinson choked up on camera as he spoke of Bryant, whom he called a friend. “As a dad myself, to think that his daughter was there with him and there was nothing he could do for her,” he said. “My god.” ____ AP Entertainment Writers Leanne Italie and Marcela Isaza contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31
  • Kobe Bryant was a hugely popular figure in Asia, no more so than in China where basketball rivals soccer as the most popular sport. However, his death Sunday in a helicopter accident comes at an awkward time between the country and the league. National broadcaster CCTV pulled all NBA games off the air following a tweet in October from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests. The Chinese Basketball Association, led by former Rockets MVP Yao Ming, announced it would suspend all cooperation with the Texas-based team. Yao and the association have yet to comment on the crash Sunday in California that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people. However, Yi Jianlian, the other Chinese player to find major success in the NBA, took to China's Weibo micro-blogging site to praise Bryant for teaching him the value of persistence. “Thank you! Kobe! Hope father and daughter continue to enjoy basketball in heaven! We will always remember you!,' wrote Yi, who signed with six different NBA teams, including briefly the Lakers in 2016. “Rest in peace to the legend,' he added in English. Bryant's popularity among Chinese fans was rivaled only by Yao, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. His playing appearances, including the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics won by the U.S., were far exceeded by his promotional appearances in the country, both on behalf of his own brand and basketball generally. At a 2013 Lakers preseason game against Golden State in Beijing, the arena rang out with chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” despite the injured superstar not even having suited up for the game. Commemorations begin rolling in online, many of the accompanied by photos of Bryant and his daughter Gianna with the letters R.I.P. Others showed the two dressed in uniform walking away into clouds under a basketball net. “For our generation, our memories of the NBA begin with Jordan, and move through Kobe and Yao Ming. You were a part of our youth. Already missing the bright sun of Kobe. Go well,” wrote commentator “ZhanHao” on the popular Twitter-like Weibo messaging service. “Your willpower has inspired a generation. Thank you,” wrote “Teacher Kai Ting.” “I hope there is basketball in heaven. Kobe just went to another world to play basketball with his daughter,” wrote “Cici’s green paper.” At the Australian Open, Americans Coco Gauff and Caty McNally wore written tributes to Bryant on their shoes during their doubles match. The tournament tweeted its condolences to the grieving families, and Romania's Simona Halep said after winning her fourth round match that Bryant's death was a “huge loss for the world, for the sport.” Australian tennis legend Rod Laver tweeted he was “terribly sad to wake up to this news.” In Taiwan, where the NBA also is an enormous draw, President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that her “thoughts go out to the Bryant family & the families of all those who lost loved ones today.' “Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players, & his legacy will live on through those who loved him,' Tsai wrote. Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that Bryant had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines. “He was well-loved by his Filipino fans,' Panelo said in a statement. “On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats,' Panelo said. “The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief.' In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Kobe Bryant’s death. “He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press Monday. Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste. Tanimoto, who watches NBA games on TV but has never met Bryant, said people know the story about how Bryant got his name. “We have always felt a closeness to him,” he said. “It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences.” ___ Associated Press journalists Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and Kiko Rosario in Bangkok contributed to this report. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the name of the national broadcaster is CCTV, not CCTC.