The sporting world and beyond is mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, aged 41. The NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine on board a helicopter that crashed on Sunday.
CNN looks back at 24 defining moments in the career of an NBA great, who mesmerized, broke records and transcended his sport.
Kobe Bean Bryant is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Pam and Joe Bryant, who is a professional basketball player. Bryant is named after Kobe beef, a type of Wagyu steak from Japan’s Kobe region. His middle name – Bean -- is derived from his father’s nickname, Jellybean.
After his father retires from the NBA in 1983, the Bryant family moves to Italy where his Dad continues to play basketball until 1991.
After being named National High School Player of the Year and the Naismith Player of the Year, Bryant is selected by the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th pick in the NBA’s first round of the draft. On July 11, 1996, Bryant is traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac.
Bryant plays in his debut NBA season -- mainly coming off the bench for the Lakers -- and becomes both the youngest player (18 years and 72 days) and the youngest starter (18 years and 158 days) in league history.
After becoming the youngest ever Slam Dunk Contest winner in 1997, Bryant goes on to play in the All-Star game a year later to become the youngest All-Star starter in history.
Despite a frosty relationship, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil form an unstoppable center-guard partnership to lead the Lakers to three successive NBA titles, which is dubbed the “Three-peat.” Bryant becomes the youngest player to win three championships.
Bryant leads The West to victory over The East in the 2002 All-Star game, scoring 31 points and recording five assists and five rebounds to be named All-Star MVP for the first time. He is to pick up that accolade again in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, gives birth to their first child, daughter Natalia. The couple have another three children, Gianna (pictured), 13, who died along with Bryant in Sunday’s crash, Bianca, three, and Capri, seven months.
Bryant is charged with one count of sexual assault in a case involving a 19-year-old hotel worker. The charge accuses Bryant of "sexual penetration or intrusion and (that) he caused submission of the victim through actual physical force," according to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
The criminal sexual assault charge is dropped.
Bryant’s accuser agrees to settle her civil lawsuit. The terms of the settlement are not disclosed.
Bryant scores 81 points in the Lakers' 122-104 win over Toronto. To this day it remains the second-highest points tally in a single game, surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.
After leading the Lakers to a 4-0 demolition of the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2007-08 playoffs, Bryant is named as the league MVP for the first and only time in his career.
An all-star Team USA -- with Bryant as captain -- sweeps aside all in its path to be crowned Olympic champion at Beijing 2008. It’s dubbed the “Redeem Team,” a play on the famous “Dream Team” nickname of the 1992 side, following the disappointing bronze medal in Athens four years prior.
Bryant leads the Lakers to a first NBA title since 2002 and is named Finals MVP for the first time in his career. He records 40 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in Game 1 as the Lakers go on to win 4-1.
For the second season in a row, Bryant is named the NBA Finals MVP as the Lakers win consecutive titles. The Lakers win Game 6 to avoid elimination against the Boston Celtics and recover from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter of Game 7 to take the title.
After staying with Bryant through the sexual assault allegations and after his public apology for cheating on his wife, Vanessa files for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences.” On January 11, 2013 the couple publicly announce their reconciliation and remain married up until Bryant’s death.
Bryant helps Team USA win a second straight Olympic gold medal, beating Spain 107-100 in the final in a rematch of four years earlier.
In a 100–94 victory over Minnesota, Bryant reaches 32,310 career points to move into third on the NBA's all-time scoring list and overtake Michael Jordan’s tally of 32,310.
In a poetic post on The Players' Tribune, Bryant announces that he will retire at the end of the NBA season. He later tells reporters he is "at peace" with his decision.
Bryant scores an incredible 60 points in the final game of his career, helping the Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz 101-96. He is swarmed by players and coaches on court after the game.
Following his retirement, the LA Lakers retire both of Bryant's famous jersey numbers -- No. 8 and No. 24 -- during a ceremony at the Staples Center.
Bryant adds an Academy Award to his plethora of trophies, winning an Oscar for best short animated film -- "Dear Basketball" -- based on a poem he wrote.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna are among nine people killed when a helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. The news shocks the world with tributes pouring in for the NBA legend.
Design + development: Mark Oliver, Woojin Lee, Caitlin Clancy, Byron Manley and Sean O'Key
Additional images: Getty Images