According to the Los Angeles Times, the tragedy occurred around 10 a.m. PT.
The shocking death of the uber-talented guard came just hours after he toasted James for passing him for third place on the league's all-time scoring list.
Firefighters worked to douse flames that spread through about an acre (.40 hectares) of dry brush, said Art Marrujo, a dispatch supervisor with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Tony Imbrenda said he didn't immediately have any information about whether the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter radioed a distress signal.
Huge explosion rips through Houston, causing several injuries
A doorbell camera caught the dramatic moment a bright flash burst through the night sky, according to video posted to Twitter. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the blast was felt as far away as 14 miles (22 km), based on social media reports.
Former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant earned more than $680 million during 20 years in the National Basketball Association before launching a successful business career after retirement. Another player and parent were reportedly in the plane.
A large crowd also gathered outside Staples Center Sunday afternoon to mourn Bryant. "Much respect my brother", Bryant tweeted Saturday night. "I love u and u will be missed".
Bryant was an 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In addition to their on-court competitions, they were also teammates on the Team USA squad that captured the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Bryant visits the New York Stock Exchange in 2016.