LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Superstar, Kobe Bryant, 41, and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles this afternoon. Fans and Celebrities alike were stunned by the tragic news.
TMZ, who was first to report the story, stated that Kobe and *eight* other people including his daughter, known as “GiGi” had been on their away to basketball practice at Mamba Academy when the helicopter went down in Calabasas, California. A fire broke out and emergency personnel responded, but there were no survivors. All nine passengers passed away.
He was on 15 All-NBA Teams, 12 All-Defensive Teams and led the league in scoring for two seasons. He ranks fourth in the NBA for all-time regular season scoring and all-time postseason scoring. He also represented the USA in a number of Olympics appearances.
After the last game of his career in 2016, the Lakers famously retired both of Kobe’s jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, the only player in team history to receive that honor.
Kobe’s accomplishments stand far outside of the basketball world. He won an Oscar for his short film, “Dear Basketball,” in 2018.
Kobe has famously used a helicopter to travel for years — dating back to when he played for the Lakers. He was known for commuting from Newport Beach, CA to the STAPLES Center in DTLA in his Sikorsky S-76 chopper. There was a total of 9 victims in the tragic crash.
Kobe is survived by his wife of 19 years, Vannessa Bryant, and his three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri who was born in June 2019.
LA’s Staples Center, the site of this year’s Grammys, was full of entertainers who have been patrons on nights when Kobe scored 50, hit clutch playoff shots, and clinched championships. But sadly, the only physical remnants of the Mamba last night were the illuminated 8 and 24 jerseys that hovered over the proceedings. They were glum reminders of just how minute the night’s trophy dispersal was in the grand scheme of life.
“I’m devastated!!!!” “Too emotional to respond. I can’t find the words to make sentences!!!!-Michael Jordan
“I just started crying,” added a teary-eyed Charles Barkley. “That’s all I’ve been doing, is crying.”
Barkley had gone to an early showing of the movie “The Gentlemen” and had left his phone at home. He emerged from the theater and immediately sensed something was terribly wrong.
“I just feel a tremendous sadness,” Barkley said.
Hall of Famer Jerry West traded for a teenage Bryant in the 1996 draft, shipping well-established and highly regarded center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to the young phenom, who declared for the draft right out of high school. It was a bold move that literally altered the landscape of NBA history.
It was West who guided a young Bryant through the pitfalls of an NBA climate that was often unkind to a gifted yet impetuous young talent. Bryant would later credit West as the first of many mentors who helped him shape his career as an unforgettable NBA icon.
“I haven’t come to grips with this,” said an audibly distraught West. “First you have a feeling of shock, then a feeling of horrible sorrow, and then you start having all these recollections of the times I shared with him. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.
“I feel like I’ve lost a son.”
Source:ESPN Jackie MacMullan
Photos:Getty images/Various Sources