HE was a giant of American sporting history, regarded as one of the all-time greatest basketball players. The death of Kobe Bryant has sent shockwaves around the world, with a raft of sporting greats among those to express their own grief at his passing.

Do we know what happened yet?

Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were among nine people killed when the helicopter they were travelling in came down in foggy conditions in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. Air crash investigators are now looking into the cause, but it is known that police had grounded their own helicopters due to the poor weather.

The pilot was warned?

The helicopter was forced to circle for 15 minutes awaiting landing clearance in poor visibility and it has emerged that the pilot was cautioned "you're too low" just seconds before the Sikorsky S-76 aircraft vanished from radar.

A police spokesman for the LA force told the LA Times that conditions "did not meet our minimum standards for flying", while experts added that the "likelihood of a catastrophic twin engine failure on that aircraft - it just doesn't happen”.

Bryant was a living legend?

Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his father was a NBA (National Basketball Association) player and Bryant went on to spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, joining straight from high school. He won five NBA championships and it was only on Saturday that LA Lakers' LeBron James passed Bryant on the NBA's All-Time Scoring List, taking his third place. James, 35, scored 29 points to move to 33,655 career points - 12 more than Bryant, who retired in 2016.

He won an Oscar?

Bryant won the 2018 Academy Award for best animated short film, which was based on a poem he wrote, “Dear Basketball”. He was the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Oscar in any category.

The film illustrated what was his farewell note to the sport he loved, including the lines: “This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

An outpouring of grief?

Politicians, celebrities and sports stars were among those to express their sorrow, including Sir Andy Murray, who said “This has hit me hard”. Cristiano Ronaldo said he was “so sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths”, adding that “Kobe was a true legend and inspiration to so many”. Sir Paul McCartney also said: “He was a great player and a very impressive human being”.

Meanwhile, fans gathered outside the Staples Centre in LA - the Lakers’ home court - for a vigil.

The tributes continue…

Former US President Barack Obama said Bryant - who is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three other daughters, including a baby, Capri, born last summer - was "a legend on the court" who was "just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act”.