Legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were amongst nine killed as their helicopter tried to clear a layer of clouds before crashing, said investigators.
Former NBA Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died alongside seven other people aboard that included Gianna’s basketball teammate and her parents. The helicopter lost contact with air control as it began descending and crashed into the ground.
Experts say the helicopter did not have the recommended warning system to warn the pilot he was too close to the ground, but it is not clear if it would have prevented the crash.
Close friend and current Lakers player Lebron James said in an Instagram post, “I am heartbroken and devastated my brother! Man, I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids.”
Vanessa and Kobe married in 2001 when she was only 18 and he was 22. Together they had four kids: 13-year-old Gianna, who was killed alongside her father, 17 -year-old Natalia, three-year-old Bianka, and seven-month-old Capri.
In a stellar basketball career Kobe was a five-time NBA Champion, two-time finals MVP and 18-time All-Star player. He was the fourth all-time leading scorer in the NBA with a total of 33643 points, only recently overtaken by James.
After retiring in 2016, Bryant focused on training other players in the NBA and WNBA and coaching aspiring professional athletes in school or college.
In a statement released by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert she said, “Kobe’s support for the WNBA and women’s basketball along with his passion for helping young girls and boys follow their dreams made him a true legend for our sport.”
WNBA Seattle Storm player Breanna Stewart said in an Instagram post, “You (Kobe) were the first person to reach out to me after my Achilles injury and supported me through the process…May you an GiGi (Gianna) rest in peace.”
Alongside building up other athletes, Bryant focused on helping his daughters develop in their sports – whether that was basketball for Gianna or volleyball for Natalia. Stewart even said that Gianna – who planned to play for the University of Connecticut Huskies and eventually in the WNBA -was carrying Kobe’s legacy in basketball.
Off the court, he was an ambassador for After-School All-Stars, a non-profit that provides after-school programmes to children in the US. Alongside this he and Vanessa founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF), and its goal was to help young people in need through sports and assisting the homeless.
Kobe also wrote a book in 2018, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, but most well-known was his film Dear Basketball which made him the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
So, alongside his legacy on the court Kobe wanted to be remembered for all he has done off the court. In an interview on CNBC he said, “Now, championships come and go. Right? There’s going to be another team that wins an NBA Championship, another player that wins another MVP award. But if you really want to create something that lasts generations, you have to help inspire the next generation.”
Image Credit: Allen Berezovsky