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These are some of the athletes who died in aviation accidents before Kobe Bryant

Emiliano Sala, Payne Stewart, Roy Halladay
Emiliano Sala, Payne Stewart, Roy Halladay (Getty Images)

Five-time NBA Championship winner Kobe Bryant was killed in a Southern California helicopter crash Sunday, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other people.

The group was flying to Thousand Oaks, California, Sunday for a basketball game Gianna was scheduled to play in and Bryant was expected to coach.

San Antonians gather to honor fallen NBA legend Kobe Bryant

Bryant, 41, spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers and continues to hold the position of one of the top scorers in NBA history.

Thousands across the country mourned the icon's death -- and he now joins a list of other athletes who were killed in aircraft accidents.

Former, current Spurs react to news of Kobe Bryant’s death

Here are some of the men and women who lost their lives in aircraft accidents in the past half century.

Soccer player Emiliano Sala

Emiliano Sala, a 28-year-old Argentinian striker, was killed when his aircraft crashed over the English Channel in January 2019. The pilot, David Ibbotson, was presumed dead.

Shortly before the crash, Sala left French team FC Nantes to sign with English Premier League club Cardiff City for a reported $19.3 million. He was heading to Wales after saying farewell to his former teammates.

Following the young player's death, FC Nantes President Waldemar Kita announced the club would be retiring the No. 9 jersey Sala used to wear.

MLB pitcher Roy Halladay

In 2017, former baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died when his single-engine, two-seater plane crashed off the Florida coast.

The 40-year-old athlete, who won 203 major league games, was the only person aboard.

The plane crashed in very shallow water and was found upside down, CNN previously reported. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office had said there had been no distress calls prior to the crash.

Halladay pitched parts of 16 seasons in the major leagues, the first 12 with the Toronto Blue Jays, and was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

"There are no words to describe the sadness that the entire Phillies family is feeling over the loss of one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game," a team statement said.

Three French athletes

Boxer Alexis Vastine, swimmer Camille Muffat and sailor Florence Arthaud died in March 2015 when two helicopters collided in Argentina.

Seven other people were killed on their way to film a reality TV show called "Dropped" in northwestern Argentina.

Vastine, 28, won a bronze medal in the light welterweight division at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Arthaud, 57, broke the record in 1990 for crossing the North Atlantic alone.

Muffat, 25, won three medals at the 2012 Olympics in London: the gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle, the silver in the 200-meter freestyle and the bronze in the 4 X 200-meter freestyle relay.

MLB Pitcher Cory Lidle

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was killed in October 2006 when his plane crashed into a New York high-rise apartment building.

He was 34 years old.

Lidle's four-seater originated from Teterboro Regional Airport in New Jersey about 2:30 p.m. and was on radar as it circled the Statue of Liberty and headed north up the East River, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

One source told CNN there was a distress call that came from the pilot involving a problem with fuel.

Eleven firefighters and five civilians received minor injuries, the mayor had said. Lidle's flight instructor was also killed in the accident.

Golfer Payne Stewart

In October 1999, a Lear jet carrying 42-year-old professional golfer Payne Stewart and five other people crashed near Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the accident was likely caused by the sudden loss of cabin pressure in the aircraft. That may have left everyone inside the plane incapacitated or dead.

The plane left Orlando, Florida, and was heading to Texas, where Stewart was scheduled to play in a tournament. The plane flew off course for about 1,500 miles, apparently on autopilot, until it crashed.

Stewart won 11 PGA Tour events, including three majors -- the 1989 PGA Open and the US Open in 1991 and 1999. He represented the United States on five Ryder Cup teams and three World Cup teams.

NFL Running back Rodney Culver

Twenty-six-year-old Rodney Culver was among 104 passengers and five crew members killed when ValuJet Flight 592 crashed in the Florida Everglades in May 1996.

Culver played as a running back with the San Diego Chargers.

Culver's wife, Karen Culver, also died in the crash. They were survived by his two daughters.

NASCAR driver Alan Kulwicki

Alan Kulwicki, named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers, was killed in an April 1993 plane crash when he was 38. Three other people on the plane died.

Kulwicki, a mechanical engineer from Wisconsin, was named the NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 1986 and won the NASCAR Cup Series Drivers' Championship in 1992.

He moved to Charlotte in 1984 with "nothing but a pickup truck, a self-built race car and the hopes of competing in NASCAR's highest series," according to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

MLB catcher Thurman Munson

Thurman Munson, the catcher and team captain for the New York Yankees, died in August 1979 as he practiced takeoffs and landings in his new Cessna Citation jet at the Akron-Canton, Ohio, Airport. He was 32.

Munson was a nine-year veteran of the Yankees. He played on two world championship teams and was named the 1970 American League rookie of the year and the 1976 AL MVP.

MLB outfielder Roberto Clemente

Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente, 38, died in December 1972 when a plane carrying earthquake relief to Nicaragua crashed off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Four other people on board died.

During his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he earned a dozen Golden Gloves, appeared in a dozen All-Star games and was National League MVP in 1966 and the MVP of the 1971 World Series.

He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame the year after his death.

Boxer Rocky Marciano

In August 1969, former world heavy weight champion Rocky Marciano died in a plane crash near Newton, Iowa. He was 45. The pilot and another passenger also died.

Marciano had announced his retirement in 1956, saying he wanted to spend time with family. He had a perfect 49-0 record, with 43 knockouts, making him the only heavyweight boxer to retire undefeated.

Chapecoense Football Club

A plane carrying the Chapecoense, a Brazilian football team, crashed in November 2016 after the pilot reported an electrical fault.

Of the 77 people on board, 71 died in the accident. Three players, one crew member and two other passengers survived the crash.

The Chapecoense were scheduled to play in the Copa Sudamericana final prior to the crash.


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