Kobe Bryant was among five people killed in a helicopter crash in the city of Calabasas, California.
According to reports, the 41-year-old Lakers legend was traveling in a private helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames.
Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, was widely considered one of the greatest players in basketball’s history.
Tributes from celebrities and fellow sports stars have been pouring in, many expressing shock at his sudden death.
The identities of the other victims have not yet been released.
In a statement, the City of Calabasas said it was “with great sadness that we learn of the death of Kobe Bryant and four others in a helicopter crash”.
The statement added: “The aircraft went down in a remote field off Las Virgenes around 10:00 this morning. Nobody on the ground was hurt.”
Gavin Masak, who lives nearby, told CBS News of the moment the helicopter crashed.
He said: “It wasn’t exactly like an explosion sound but it was like a loud boom. It sounded like a helicopter, but it sounded like a jet, like it was loud, so I went inside and told my dad what was happening. So when I came out I saw smoke on the hill but it wasn’t like a big, black cloud of smoke, it was just grey.”
Other eyewitnesses told celebrity news site TMZ they heard the helicopter’s engine sputtering before it went down.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department shared pictures from the scene of the accident, showing a fire truck and smoke emerging from the hills.
The FAA identified the crashed helicopter as a Sikorsky S-76. It said it was investigating the accident alongside the NTSB.
Officials are set to give further details at a press conference at 2PM, local time.
Kobe 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 and two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Kobe Bryant was also two-time NBA scoring champion and a two-time Olympic champion.