LOS ANGELES, CA- Profound tragedy strikes as NBA icon Kobe Bryant is one of nine victims including his 13-year old daughter Gianna perished in a devastating helicopter crash in Calabasas on the morning of January, 26. The doomed helicopter was in route to one of Gigi’s games at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a youth basketball game.
Words fail to explain and comprehend how the beloved Kobe truly was in The City of Angels – his magnitude transcends the world of sports. Who else has two numbers retired? Both his #8 and #24 jerseys hang in the rafters at Staples Center. Thousands of grief stricken fans stunned by the news made makeshift tributes adorned with flowers, jerseys and heartfelt ‘M-V-P’ chants in honor of the NBA superstar.
Bryant, 41, played his entire twenty year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA Titles. Here is a brief list of his accolades: 18 time All-Star, 11 time All NBA First Team, NBA MVP in 2008, NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. He is the fourth leading scorer in NBA history, as well as a two time Gold Medal winner in 2008 and 2012.
Other victims include John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri and their daughter Alysa. Also on board was 13-year old basketball player Payton Chester, her mother Sarah, youth coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan was also killed.
The Sikorsky S-76B was given permission to take off despite foggy conditions, crashing in a remote field off Las Virgenes before 10:00am, the investigation is ongoing.
The 62nd Grammy Awards, which were held at Staples Center paid tribute to the fallen hero. Grammy host Alicia Keys, proclaimed Staples Center, “The house Kobe Bryant Built.” After Boys II Men joined Keys on stage to sing their moving, ‘It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye’ to open the show. Lizzo declared, “This night is for Kobe,” before singing ‘Cuz I Love You.’
The crash came the night after LeBron James passed him for 3rd on the All Time scoring list in his hometown of Philadelphia. A video surfaced of James getting off the team plane in tears.
Bryant’s teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who won three straight NBA Championships wrote, There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my niece Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. I’M SICK RIGHT NOW !!”
This week marks the fourteenth anniversary of his 81 point performance against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points in an NBA game. Bryant was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft. In his final game in 2016, he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz.
Kobe Bryant’s legend far surpasses the court, his fierce competitive drive served as life lessons. In 2018, he won an Academy Award for his animated short, “Dear Basketball.” Kobe was apart of the fabric of the nation. Bryant also championed women’s sports.
Everyone’s first reaction was disbelief. Not possible; someone who conquered any obstacle life presented. Compounding this unspeakable tragedy is the loss of his daughter Gianna. Bryant was an excellent father, Gigi dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. Explaining to Jimmy Kimmel, “The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans will come up to me. And she’ll be standing next to me, and they will be like, ‘You gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy, man, to have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy.’ And she is like, “I got this.”
We will never see the next chapter in his incredible life.
Kobe Bryant 1978-2020