In the morning hours of Sunday, January 26th, the world learned of the tragic news of the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The basketball legend and his daughter were among nine people who died in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. There were no survivors. Bryant owned the helicopter as he was known to fly all throughout Los Angeles County. The group was headed to Bryant’s “Mamba Academy”, his sports complex in Thousand Oaks where he would coach Gianna and her team. Also, on board the flight were Gianna’s teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, as well as their parents, Keri and John Altobelli and Sarah Chester. The crash can be attributed to the fog and low visibility at the time.
The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter is a heavy blow to basketball fans around the world, the NBA, the Lakers organization, and the city of Los Angeles. But most importantly, this is a heavy loss to the Bryant family and to the people who knew him best. To define Kobe Bryant by the illustrious career and accolades he had on the basketball court (20 years with the purple and gold that boasted 5 championships, 18 All-Star appearances, 15-time member of the All-NBA team, 4th in All-Time scoring, etc) is a total and complete understatement. Kobe Bryant was a global basketball icon and the face of the NBA for many years. In the city of Los Angeles especially, he was an idol to an entire generation of kids growing up in the 2000s and 2010s. His influence was so great that when we trash away, people say one name and one name only, and that’s “KOBE”.
Bryant was a speaker of several languages, an Oscar winner, and a philanthropist, but above all else, he was a devoted husband to his wife, Vanessa, and a father to his 4 kids, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and 7-month-old Capri. After spending 20 years playing in the NBA, it’s heartbreaking to know that it has only been a little over 3 years since his retirement. He still had so much life ahead of him, so many years to spend with his family (he was very involved with his children’s sports) which is why he owned a helicopter in the first place. In a podcast interview, Bryant said that using a helicopter helped him beat LA traffic, allowing him to spend more time with his family.
The loss of Kobe Bryant is already having its effects. Crowds of hundreds fill outside Staples Center and downtown Los Angeles, paying respects to the icon. Dozens of former teammates, current players, friends, and the overall sports community have voiced their tear-filled condolences and what Kobe Bryant meant to them. In the NBA, teams around the league have started off the game with a 24-second shot clock violation in honor of Bryant (He wore #24 for a majority of his career) as well as the Dallas Mavericks have retired his jersey number.
Although he is no longer with us, the legacy of Kobe Bryant still lives on. May he, Gianna, and the other victims of the crash Rest in Peace.
In reaction to the tragedy, the ERHS community wrote some of their own tributes to Kobe and his daughter:
"You inspired billions and Gigi will forever be forever in hearts. Thanks for changing our lives and our hearts. Much love to your family and your girls. Much respect."
"RIP Kobe and Gigi. You inspired millions and will forever be remembered."
"RIP Kobe, thanks for being an inspiration for female basketball players."
"Thank you for the childhood memories. Prayers to all those affected."
"Thank you for representing who I want to become."
"RIP king. You'll live in our hearts as a hero."
"Thanks for being an inspiration, we love you Kobe. Rest well."
"Our prayers are with the Bryant family you will be missed. Thanks for everything you did for our community."
"RIP GOAT! You will be missed but we must continue to fight like you did."
"You were the reason I started to watch Basketball."
"You were an inspiration to my family. Rest in peace."
"Best player <3"
"RIP. Be happy in paradise. You will be missed."
"RIP to a legend in the making. Both are inspirations."
"Throwing trash away will never be the same."
"You helped me become who I am today. #24"
"You were my hero, my man. Thanks for everything."