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VERIFY: Fact-checking rumors that spread after Kobe Bryant’s death in helicopter crash

As news of Kobe Bryant's death spread, online posts falsely claimed another former NBA player also died. The VERIFY team broke down some of the widespread claims.
People gather outside Staples Center after the death of Laker legend Kobe Bryant Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

LOS ANGELES (WTHR) — Following the shocking news of NBA great Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday, rumors spread throughout social media regarding the incident.

The VERIFY team is working to break down some of the most widespread claims.

DEBUNKED CLAIM: Rick Fox died in the helicopter crash

In the initial aftermath of the crash, early rumors claimed that former NBA player and actor Rick Fox was on board and had died.

Despite early reports to the contrary, he wasn't in the helicopter. Fox’s stepdaughter confirmed he is still alive.

CLAIM: Five people died in the crash

Early reports stated five people died in the helicopter crash that took Bryant’s life on Sunday. However, that figure has since been updated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

Orange Coast College confirmed baseball coach John Altobelli was also killed in the crash, along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, Gianna.

DEBUNKED CLAIM: Bryant’s four daughters were in the crash

Much like the Rick Fox rumor, another early rumor was that all four of Bryant’s daughters were involved in the crash. While Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna was in the helicopter and died, his other three daughters were not on board.

As of Sunday evening, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has yet to publicly confirm the identities of the nine victims.

DEBUNKED CLAIM: NBA canceled games

Following Bryant’s death, multiple accounts stated the NBA would be canceling Sunday’s games to pay respect. Eight NBA games were scheduled for Sunday, and none of them were canceled.

With the games going ahead as planned, players found ways to pay tribute to Bryant. In a couple of occasions, teams intentionally took 24-second shot clock violations to start the game in honor of Bryant, who used the number 24 for much of his career. This included the game between the Celtics and Pelicans and the game between the Raptors and Spurs. The Lakers, who Bryant played for his entire career, do not play again until Tuesday.