State of Illinois previously owned helicopter involved in fatal crash that killed Kobe Bryant, 8 others

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The state of Illinois previously owned the helicopter that crashed while carrying NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others Sunday, killing all passengers on board.

The state sold the helicopter, Chopper N72EX, to its current owner in 2015, according to an aviation safety website. The holding company is called Island Express Holding Corp.

Basketball fans in Chicago are mourning the Lakers legend Sunday.

The United Center is lit up in honor of No. 24.

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NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Sunday, his sudden death at age 41 touching off an outpouring of grief for a star whose celebrity transcended basketball.

Kobe Bryant fans are recalling the moment they learned the basketball great was gone.

"We had grown men inside Nike today crying," said Darryl Wakefield. "I mean that's how bad it was."

"I couldn't believe it. I thought it was fake. I didn't think it was real. I didn't want it to be real. It was just horrible," said George Antzoulatos.

He was an inspiration to many for his talents on and off the basketball court.

"He was huge. He was an icon. He was bigger than basketball," said Andrew Vargas.

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Basketball legend Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter and seven other. He was 41 years old.

"If he can continue to push himself to be better every day, everybody can," said Anina Harris.

Elliott Zirlin owns Blue Sky Marketing Group.

His Chicago-based promotional company produced the commemorative book for Bryant's final NBA game in 2016. More than 20,000 copies were handed out to fans at the Staple Center.

"We are very proud of it," Zirlin said. "This was one of the biggest print jobs that we've ever done and the quality is just beautiful."

On Sunday night, the United Center and the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier lit up in purple and gold in honor of Bryant.

Fans said his passing is a reminder that tomorrow isn't promised.

"My buddies reached out and we are in a group chat. You make sure you tell them you love them, just let people know," Vargas said.

"Life is precious. Don't take anything for granted," Antzoulatos said.
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