Not a pleasant start for 2020!
The retired N.B.A. star, 41, and his daughter Gianna were among nine people in a helicopter that crashed near Calabasas, Calif. A college baseball coach and his wife and daughter were also killed.
RIGHT NOW Authorities in Los Angeles County said it could take several days to recover bodies from the crash site, as the helicopter crashed in rough terrain.
The retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday.
Bryant was among the passengers traveling onboard the helicopter. Nine people died in the crash, including the pilot, said Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff, during a news conference.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it sent a team to California on Sunday evening.
Daryl Osby, the Los Angeles County fire chief, said the crash site was difficult to access and that firefighters had to hike to the area.
It was not immediately clear how many passengers the helicopter was approved to transport, and fire officials said it was not immediately clear whether the helicopter was overloaded.
The N.B.A. sent a confirmation of Bryant’s and Gianna’s deaths to all teams and league employees Sunday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the document.
The other victims of the crash included John Altobelli, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College, a junior college in Costa Mesa. Calif., as well as Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, university officials said.
Bryant and his daughter were on their way to an academy where he coached her team. According to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge details of the ongoing investigations.
The academy was hosting the Mamba Cup Tournament Series, a series of tournaments for boys and girls basketball teams from the third through eighth grades. All the games were canceled after the news of Bryant’s death became public.
Momentarily, a few fans wearing Laker jerseys started chanting “Ko-be! Ko-be!” and then stopped.
Eddie Lugo, 21, placed a throwback No. 8 jersey and candles on the memorial. He wore a blue throwback jersey backward, so that Bryant’s name faced forward.
“I was walking my dog meeting up with my buddy, complimenting my buddy on all the Laker gear, actually, when one of my best friends called,” Lugo said. “We were all just mind blown, we thought it was fake.”
Bryant was considered one of the best players in N.B.A. history.
Drafted to the N.B.A. directly out of high school in 1996, Bryant was named an All-Star in 18 of his 20 seasons for the Lakers and helped lead the team to five championships. His hypercompetitive nature led to occasional public disagreements with coaches and other players, but his commitment to winning was never questioned.
The winner of the N.B.A.’s Most Valuable Player Award for the 2007-8 season, and the N.B.A. finals M.V.P. in both 2009 and 2010, Bryant showed a rare commitment to success on both ends of the court, with a résumé that included two scoring titles — and an 81-point game in 2006 that is the second-highest single-game total in N.B.A. history — along with 12 appearances on the league’s All-Defense team. He also thrived on the international stage, where he won gold medals for U.S.A. Basketball in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
In 2016, after various injuries had taken their toll on the longtime superstar, he proved to have one more highlight in him, scoring 60 points in his final game while leading the last-place Lakers to a surprising win over the Utah Jazz.
Off the court, Bryant’s legacy was far more complicated. He was arrested in 2003 after a sexual assault complaint was filed against him in Colorado. A 19-year-old hotel employee claimed that Bryant, who was working to rehabilitate his knee following surgery, had raped her. The legal case against Bryant was eventually dropped, and a civil suit was settled privately out of court, but Bryant publicly apologized for the incident.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” he said in his statement. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
In retirement, Bryant became something of a champion for women’s sports and expanded his purview, winning an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” while also creating the web series “Detail” for ESPN in which he analyzed current players.
“My heart can take the pounding / My mind can handle the grind / But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” he wrote in “Dear Basketball,” the poem that he wrote to announce his retirement that was the basis for the short film.
He was scheduled to headline the 2020 N.B.A. Hall of Fame nominees.
Fans gathered quickly at Staples Center, where Bryant delivered championships with the Lakers.
The fans who gathered at Staples Center represented the ethnic and racial diversity of Bryant’s professional city.
Leo Márquez, 7, placed a candle at the memorial, his eyes filling with tears. He couldn’t get the words out to explain why he was there.
“He wanted to come because he always watched Kobe on TV with his dad,” said his mother, Alejandra Márquez.
Adam Jackman, 18, a University of Southern California student from New York City, walked from the university to the arena.
“I’m here for the impact that Kobe had on the city of L.A., not just on the court but in the community,” he said. “This is the best place to be with the city as it tries to heal.”
Joe Rivas, 28, a registered nurse, was on a gym treadmill in the town of Cerritos when the news of Bryant’s death flashed on the television.
“The whole place froze,” Rivas said. “It sucked the air out of the room. I couldn’t believe it. I grew up with Kobe. He is my favorite player of all time.”
Rivas said he couldn’t finish his workout. He changed and jumped in his car to drive 25 miles to Staples Center, where he had watched Bryant play his last game in April 2016.
“He was not a perfect man but we all have our faults,” said Rivas, who donned a No. 24 jersey. “It’s beyond basketball.”
Among the other victims of the crash was John Altobelli, 56, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College, a junior college in Costa Mesa. Calif. “This is a tremendous loss for our campus community,” said Angelica Suarez, the president of Orange Coast College, in a statement.
Among the players Altobelli coached was Mets All-Star infielder, Jeff McNeil, in the summer Cape Cod Baseball League. “He took a chance on me, kept me the whole summer,” McNeil told ESPN. “Him taking that chance on me, having me on his team, got me drafted.”
The Grammy Awards paid tribute to Bryant at the beginning of their show.
At the arena where Bryant put his stamp on the Lakers and the N.B.A., his death cast a pall over a typically ebullient event: the Grammy Awards.
The show’s host, Alicia Keys, paid tribute to Bryant during the opening of the CBS broadcast, performing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with the R&B group that made the song popular, Boyz II Men.
“Here we are, together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” Keys said. “And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
A spotlight shined on Bryant’s retired No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys up in the rafters of the Staples Center.
The music industry’s top stars mourned Bryant leading up to the show, from Taylor Swift to Demi Lovato and John Legend.
In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle,” John Legend wrote on Twitter. “Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes.”
The grief over Bryant’s death extended from coast to coast, with his high school alma mater, near Philadelphia, becoming the scene of a spontaneous shrine.
“I was heartbroken,” said Jasmine Strong, 29, who was visiting from Brooklyn and decided to visit Lower Merion High School, where fans brought flowers and other tributes after Bryant’s death. “I’m lost for words.”
She had charted Bryant’s professional career from its start: when he was 17, fresh out of Lower Merion, where he had led the basketball team to a state title in 1996.
“Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat,” Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant, said in a statement.
Indeed, others with ties to the school flocked to the campus on Sunday as word of Bryant’s death spread.
Brittany Ferro, 30, said she had also gone to Lower Merion and had been moved to come with two friends and her newborn son after she learned of Bryant’s death during dinner.
“We were very upset so we wanted to come and pay our respects,” she said. “He was one of the best of his times and he was admired by a lot of people.”
Bryant was a standout at Lower Merion, where he helped to elevate the basketball program to extraordinary heights. Bryant, who dominated the court from any position, was a draw — plenty would say the central draw in the mid-1990s.
“It was quite a treat to watch a future superstar,” said Rob Wilson, who still lives in Lower Merion Township and recalled taking his son to watch the adolescent Bryant play.
Soon after Bryant was drafted, he walked into a local diner while Wilson and his son were there.
“I remember him coming into Ruby’s and pointing him out and saying, ‘That guy’s a future superstar in the N.B.A., right here in our little Ruby’s,” Wilson recalled. “I was very touched by the fact that he was not being swarmed.”
Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania said the state would “never forget our time as Kobe’s home.”
“At Lower Merion HS, he captured our hearts and the attention of the world,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “He truly shined and brought pride to our state.”
Gianna Bryant had more than a blue blood basketball lineage. Her father often spoke proudly of her development as a player.
The 13-year-old, whose nickname was Gigi, was “hellbent” on playing for the University of Connecticut and in the W.N.B.A., her father told The Los Angeles Times last year.
Trump, Obama and the Clintons all spoke about Bryant’s death.
President Trump said that Bryant was “just getting started in life,” even after a career that forever marked him as one of basketball’s greats.
“He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future,” the president wrote on Twitter. “The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating.”
Former President Barack Obama, a noted basketball fan, posted on Twitter that Bryant was “a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.”
The death of Bryant’s daughter, the former president added, “is even more heartbreaking to us as parents.”
Bryant and Obama had crossed paths over the years, with Obama welcoming the Lakers to the White House and, at another point, with the president and Bryant appearing alongside each other at a community service event.
In 2016, Obama even appeared to mimic Bryant’s “Mamba out” moment at Staples Center. Obama, making the final appearance of his presidency at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, closed his speech with “Obama out” and dropped the microphone.
Former President Bill Clinton, who was in the White House when Bryant ascended to the N.B.A., and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, extolled how Bryant “brought excitement and joy to basketball fans not just in Los Angeles, but all over the U.S. and around the world.”
“Kobe Bryant,” the Clintons added, “lived a very large life in a very short time.”
No player was more connected to Bryant — for both good and bad reasons — than Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
They arrived together in Los Angeles in 1996, proceeded to build a new Lakers dynasty, and then had their extremely public rivalry result in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in 2004.
O’Neal, who had been named the most valuable player of each of their three championships together in Los Angeles, went on to win a fourth career title as a member of the Heat, while Bryant would be named the M.V.P. of the finals for the Lakers in both 2009 and 2010.
While the two were known to heavily criticize each other, going as far as to mention each other in diss tracks, they had reconciled in recent years. In 2017, when a statue of O’Neal was unveiled in front of Staples Center, he said of Bryant “Next time we’re out here for a statue, it’ll probably be your statue.” O’Neal, like many of Bryant’s former peers, reacted to the news of Bryant’s death on Twitter.
The National Transportation Safety Board said a team of 18 people would be immediately involved in its investigation, and that officials were expected to arrive in California from Washington late on Sunday.
“Our team will be looking at the history of the pilot and whatever crew was on board,” said Jennifer Homendy, a member of the board. “We’ll be looking at maintenance records of the helicopter. We will be looking at records of the owner and operator of the helicopter and a number of other things.”
N.T.S.B. investigations can stretch for months.
We can only imagine the heartache the Bryant clan must be going through right now. Vanessa Bryant and her husband were very much in love, a love that stood the test of time. Their love survived the allegations against Kobe against a 19 yr old hotel worker in 2004 and then survived potential divorce in 2011. Kobe Bryant leaves behind his wife vanessa Bryant (37 yrs), his daughters Natalia Diamante (17 yrs), Bianka Bella (3yrs) and Capri Kobe (not even 1 yet)!
Unfortunately Kobe and his external family were not close.
Pam, who married husband Joe Bryant in 1975, raised Kobe, arguably one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and their two daughters, Sharia and Shaya. While the family was close growing up and through most of Kobe’s career, they had a huge falling out in 2013 after the family tried selling his memorabilia behind his back. Joe and Pam were not present for Kobe’s final NBA game before he retired. They were not invited.
Pam’s relationship with her son remained strained following Kobe’s retirement. It’s unknown if they were able to reconcile prior to Kobe’s tragic death, but things continued to appear incredibly icy between the former Lakers star and his parents.
Here’s what you need to know about Pam Bryant:
Pam Bryant Refused To Attend Kobe & Vanessa’s Wedding
Kobe and Vanessa were very young when they first met and fell in love. The budding NBA star was 21 when he proposed to Vanessa, 18, a senior at Marina High.
Pam and Joe, along with Sharia and Shaya, were not present at Kobe and Vanessa’s wedding in Dana Point, California, in 2001. According to Nicki Swift, Kobe’s mother opposed the marriage because she thought they were too young to tie the knot. However, after the couple welcomed their first child, Natalia, Kobe and his mother were able to mend their strained relationship, a reconciliation that lasted for over a decade.
Pam & Joe Bryant Had A Huge Falling Out With Their Son After They Tried Selling Memorabilia Behind Kobe’s Back
Pam and Joe Bryant had three children together, son Kobe and daughters Sharia and Shaya. However, in 2013, the family had a huge falling out. Kobe said in an ESPN interview, “Our relationship is s***. I say [to them], ‘I’m going to buy you a very nice home,’ and the response is ‘That’s not good enough’? Then you’re selling my s***?”
After Bryant sued Goldin Auctions, the brokerage company Joe and Pam used, they came to an agreement a week before his case was set to go to trial in New Jersey.
His parents issued the following statement after trying to sell nearly $500,000 worth of Kobe’s memorabilia: “We regret our actions and statements related to the Kobe Bryant auction memorabilia. We apologize for any misunderstanding and unintended pain we may have caused our son and appreciate the financial support that he has provided to us over the years.”
Kobe said of his sisters, whom he decided to cut off financially, “They’re very smart, college-educated [women]. I’m really proud of them. They were able to get their own jobs, get their own lives, take care of themselves. Now they have a better sense of self, of who they are as people, instead of being resentful because they were relying on me.”
Kobe Wrote In His ‘Letter To My Younger Self’ Not To Give Money To His Family Or Allow His Parents To Be His Managers
Following his retirement in 2016, Kobe penned a letter published in The Players’ Tribune, warning his 17-year-old self to “invest” in family and friends, but do not “give” to them.
He wrote, “Purely giving material things to your siblings and friends may appear to be the right decision. You love them, and they were always there for you growing up, so it’s only right that they should share in your success and all that comes with it. So you buy them a car, a big house, pay all of their bills. You want them to live a beautiful, comfortable life, right?”
Kobe continued, “The most important advice I can give to you is to make sure your parents remain PARENTS and not managers. Before you sign that first contract, figure out the right budget for your parents — one that will allow them to live beautifully while also growing your business and setting people up for long-term success. That way, your children’s kids and their kids will be able to invest in their own futures when the time comes.”
Pam & Joe Bryant Did Not Attend Kobe’s Retirement Ceremony With The Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers retired both of Black Mamba’s career numbers, 8 and 24, in December 2017. Kobe attended with his wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka. However, noticeably absent were Kobe’s mother and father.
During Kobe’s emotional speech, he did not mention or thank either Pam or Joe Bryant. The former NBA star thanked his wife, whom he called “an inspiration,” and the Hall of Famers who came before him.
“I want to say, thank you so much for tonight,” Kobe said. “But it’s not about my jerseys that are hanging up there for me. It’s about the jerseys that were hanging up there before. Without them, I couldn’t be there today. They inspired me to play the game at a high level: Magic [Johnson], Cap [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar], Shaq pushing me every day. [Elgin] Baylor. [Walt] Chamberlain. [Gail] Goodrich. [Jerry] West. [James] Worthy. It goes on and on.”
Kobe also thanked his daughters, mentioning that even though they were born into a world of privilege, he will expect them to work hard in life.
You guys know that if you do the work, you work hard enough, your dreams come true. But hopefully, what you get from tonight is the understanding that those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway, that is actually the dream. That’s the dream. It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see is you won’t accomplish your dreams. Your dreams won’t come true. Something greater will, and if you guys can understand that, then I’m doing my job as a father.
NET WORTH AT TIME OF DEATH
Kobe Bryant’s net worth at the time of his death was $600 million. During his career, Kobe earned $323 million in NBA salary alone. He also earned an estimated $350 million from endorsements. In his NBA debut year of 1996, his salary was $1.015 million.
Bottom line it doesn’t matter how rich you are Death can take you at any time. Everyday we wake up in the morning is a privilege. Our hearts are bleeding, scratch that our hearts are ripped in pieces! RIP Kobe, you will certainly be missed.