4:30 PM PT -- L.A. weather was extremely foggy Sunday morning, and law enforcement sources tell us even LAPD air support was grounded because of it. Flight tracker data shows Kobe's chopper appeared to first encounter weather issues as it was above the L.A. Zoo. It circled that area at least 6 times at a very low altitude -- around 875 feet -- perhaps waiting for the fog to clear.
We know the pilot contacted the control tower at Burbank Airport around 9:30 AM PT, and the tower was aware the pilot had been circling for about 15 minutes. The pilot eventually headed north along the 118 freeway before turning to the west, and started following above the 101 freeway around Woodland Hills, CA.
At around 9:40 AM they encounter more weather -- as in seriously heavy fog -- and the chopper turned south. This was critical, because they turned toward a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly and rapidly climbed from about 1200 feet up to 2000 feet.
However, moments later -- around 9:45 AM -- they flew into a mountain at 1700 feet. Flight tracker data shows they were flying at about 161 knots.
12:35 PM PT -- Kobe's daughter Gianna Maria Onore -- aka GiGi -- was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash ... reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.
We're told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.
Kobe Bryant died in a helicoper crash in Calabasas Sunday morning ... TMZ Sports has confirmed.
Kobe was traveling with at least 3 other people in his private helicopter when it went down. A fire broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived. 5 people are confirmed dead. We're told Vanessa Bryant was not among those on board.
Eyewitnesses also tell us that they heard the helicopter's engine sputtering before it went down. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years -- dating back to when he played for the Lakers. He was known for commuting from Newport Beach, CA to the STAPLES Center in DTLA in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper.
KB is survived by his wife Vanessa, and their four daughters -- Gianna, Natalia and Bianca and their newborn Capri.
Kobe has recently been spotted out at NBA games with his daughter Gianna -- a rising star basketball player herself. Their youngest daughter, Capri, was just born in June 2019.
Kobe is widely considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time -- making 18 All-Star teams during his 20 year career with the Lakers. He was a first-round pick in the 1996 draft, winning 5 NBA championships, 2 NBA Finals MVPs and he was the league MVP in '08.
The Lakers famously retired both of Kobe's jerseys, number 8 and 24 ... the only player in team history to receive that honor.
Kobe's accomplishments stand far outside of the basketball world. He won an Oscar for his short film, "Dear Basketball," in 2018.
He was 41 years old. RIP