UPDATE - Grammy Awards Begin With Tribute To NBA Legend Kobe Bryant Who Died In Helicopter Crash

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 27th January, 2020) The 62nd Grammy Awards began with a moving tribute to the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who along with his daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday.

"This is for Kobe," international recording artist Lizzo said, before her performance to kick off the annual awards show.

The star-studded crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which Alicia Keys termed the "house that Kobe built," was in a visibly sombre mood.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed to reporters on Sunday that the Calabasas helicopter crash led to the death of all 9 people on board. The sheriff refused to release the identities of the people killed in the crash.

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has confirmed that the crash claimed the life of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore.

Across the world there has been an outpouring of disbelief and grief following the news of the passing of the NBA legend.

"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day," former US president Barack Obama wrote on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the accident "is terrible news."

Former teammate and one of Bryant's closest friends, Shaquille O'Neal, Tweeted, " There are no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my neice Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!"

Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin, paid his respects to Bryant on Twitter, saying "I'm so heartbroken. cant believe...Blessed to have chance to meet you. RIP Legend."

The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs in one of the first NBA games following the tragedy, honored Bryant by each deliberately running out the 24-second shot clock in memory of the basketball great's jersey number. Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar similarly held up the number 24 with his fingers after converting a penalty in Ligue 1 fixture against Lille OSC.

The Philadelphia native was drafted in 1996 by the Charlotte Bobcats but subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers before the start of his of his rookie season. Bryant was the first guard to be drafted straight out of high school.

During his illustrious 20-year career, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, two-time Olympic champion, the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the 2007/08 season, and an 18-time NBA All-Star.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP was also never far from the entertainment world, maintaining a close relationship with a number of Hollywood stars, and in 2018 won an academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for "Dear Basketball. "

While Bryant was a player that captivated basketball fans and pundits, he did at times court controversy on and off the court. Kobe earned the reputation of a callously competitive player, very demanding of his teammates, which formed the basis for his famed "Mamba mentality." In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault in Colorado. Ultimately, the criminal case was dropped. Bryant maintains that the sexual encounter was consensual, but nevertheless, issued an apology.

Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa Laine Bryant, and three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, an infant.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are currently investigating the cause of the deadly helicopter accident.