A List of Other Athletes and Celebrities Killed in Air Crashes

kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, at a 2018 swimming championship in Irvine, California. Getty

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant joins a tragic list including Thurman Munson and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, is the latest crash involving an aircraft to claim the lives of beloved athletes and celebrities.

Nine people died Sunday morning when Bryant's Sikorsky S-76B helicopter plummeted into a field in Calabasas, California, en route to a basketball game at the school where Gigi attended and played. Her friend and teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, was also on board with her parents, Keri and John, who was the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, according to family statements.

No one survived the wreck. 

Bryant was known for using his helicopter as a commuting vehicle from his home in Newport Beach to Lakers games at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Many people who can afford it often use choppers and smaller planes to speed up travel times while working and on tour.

Here is a list of other athletes and celebrities who died in air tragedies

Troy Gentry, 2017


One half of the country music group Montgomery Gentry, 50-year-old Troy Gentry, was killed in New Jersey during an emergency helicopter landing. The National Transportation Safety Board later ruled pilot error caused an "uncontrolled descent" that killed Gentry and pilot James Robinson, 30. The two were on a sight-seeing trip before a scheduled concert.

Roy Halladay, 2017


A Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay crashed his Icon A5 amphibious plane into the Gulf of Mexico near his Florida home. The 40-year-old's body was found in 6 feet of water, and FAA officials said the athlete had not filed a flight plan. An autopsy later determined Halladay had high concentrations of morphine and amphetamines in his system, as well as the sedative known as Ambien.

Cory Lidle, 2006


The Yankees pitcher and his flight instructor were killed when the ballplayer's small plane crashed into a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan. The NTSB was unable to determine who was flying the plane when it smacked into the north side of a condo complex on E. 72 Street. Pilot error was the likely cause, the flight agency determined. The bodies of Lidle and certified instructor Tyler Stanger were found in the street, where the vessel plummeted after hitting the residential building. Twenty-one people were injured, including an apartment resident who was severely burned when her home was engulfed in flames by the plane's impact.

Aaliyah, 2001


The 22-year-old R&B singer was in the Bahamas filming a music video for "Rock the Boat" when she and her crew decided to head home early after finishing production. Nine people boarded a twin-engine Cessna 402B at the Marsh Harbour Airport, headed for Opa-locka Airport in Florida. The plane nose-dived shortly after take-off and exploded, about 200 feet from the end of the runway.

Investigators later determined the plane was 700 pounds over its weight limit.

John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, 1999


The son of President John F. Kennedy and his new wife died in a private plane crash near Martha's Vineyard, along with Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's sister, Lauren. Kennedy Jr. was piloting the group to the wedding of his cousin, Rory Kennedy. The NTSB later determined the probable cause of the crash was pilot error and that Kennedy may have become disoriented while flying over water at night.

John Denver, 1997


The famed pop singer of hits such as "Rocky Mountain High" died when he plowed his private plane into California's Monterey Bay. Investigators later determined that low fuel, a hard-to-reach handle to switch gas tanks and modifications Denver made to his small plane likely contributed to his crash. The NTSB also said the 53-year-old singer didn't have a valid pilot's license because it had been revoked over a previous drunken driving conviction.

Payne Stewart, 1992


A championship golfer who won 11 PGA Tour events, Stewart was 42 when he died in the crash of a Learjet flying from his home in Florida to a tournament in Texas. NTSB investigators said the two pilots and four passengers died of hypoxia when the plane's cabin failed to pressurize. Air Force and National Guard jets intercepted the Learjet and reported its windows were fogged or frozen and there was no sign of life. The plane continued on auto pilot until it ran out of fuel and slammed into a field in South Dakota.

Bill Graham, 1991


Impresario and rock concert promoter Bill Graham was killed in a helicopter crash while returning home from a Huey Lewis and the News concert in California. The hard-driving music mogul had gone to the concert to secure Lewis' participation in a benefit for victims of the massive Oakland Hills fire in 1991. After Lewis agreed, Graham hopped back on the helicopter to return to his Bay Area home. Bad weather and gusting winds pushed the aircraft into a 223-foot-high voltage tower, where it burst into flames. Killed were Graham, his girlfriend, Melissa Gold, and his pilot and advance man Steve Kahn. 

Thurman Munson, 1979


The New York Yankees catcher was practicing takeoffs and landings with friend Jerry Anderson and flight instructor Dave Hall, when Munson clipped a tree and then struck a tree stump. His Cessna Citation burst into flames at a regional Ohio airport. Hall and Anderson survived the accident, but Munson suffered a broken neck and died of asphyxiation caused by breathing super-heated air and toxic chemicals. Pilot error was the most likely cause of the crash.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1977


Six members of the legendary Southern rock band, including frontman Ronnie Van Zant, died when their decades-old leased plane plowed into the swamps of Mississippi after running out of fuel. Surviving band members suffered serious injuries and years of rehabilitation. They disbanded after the crash, but various reincarnations of the group have formed in the years since, sometimes with original members and their relatives.

 Roberto Clemente, 1972


The Puerto Rican right fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates was killed in a plane crash off the coast of his home island. Clemente, who was active in charity work, had sponsored emergency relief flights to the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua after a massive earthquake devastated the region. After learning the first three aid deliveries had been diverted by corrupt officials of the Anastasio Somoza regime, Clemente decided to accompany the fourth flight to make sure its cargo was delivered to earthquake victims. But the badly overloaded DC-7 cargo plane crashed because of engine failure immediately after takeoff.

Buddy Holly, 1959

Plane wreckage from the 1959 crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Gig Bopper. - Getty

"The Day the Music Died" also claimed the lives of Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper. The three had just finished a gig in Clear Lake, Iowa, and were headed to their next concert in Minnesota when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza encountered bad weather and crashed into a frozen corn field. The three were part of a traveling entourage called the Winter Dance Party, which also included Waylon Jennings. Jennings had given up his plane seat to the Big Bopper, who had the flu and complained the tour bus was too cold and uncomfortable for his large size.