The tragic death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday shocked the entire world. He died alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria Onore, a basketball star in making, and seven others when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter came down in Calabasas, California.
The cause of the crash is under investigation but the helicopter is known to have turned south towards a mountainous area at around 9.40 am, before contacting the control tower at Burbank Airport shortly before 10am.
Bryant’s death has sent America into mourning mood, with many pouring tributes to the fallen star.Many sports legends, including Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, are still devastated over the demise of the Lakers legend, Bryant.
Johnson said in a series of tweets yesterday: “As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away.”
On the morning of the crash, Bryant and his daughter were said to be en route to a Gianna’s basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Gianna and her teammates were scheduled to play against Fresno Lady Heat at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy as part of the Amateur Athletic Union tournament, according The Fresno Bee newspaper.Bryant founded the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for a youth tournament.
Gianna, the second of Bryant’s four daughters, was going to youth basketball academy in Thousand Oaks to play, while his father, Bryant, was going to coach.The game on Sunday was to involve Gianna and her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester.
Alyssa and Payton were also killed in the crash alongside Alyssa’s parents John and Keri Altobelli, Payton’s mother Sarah Chester, girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.Demetrius Porter, coach of the Fresno team, told The Fresno Bee that the tournament director said the game was canceled because of the crash.
Bryant always saw Gianna, who wanted to play in the WNBA, as the heir to his legacy and he made sure he was involved in her development by coaching her team. Bryant sometimes shared photos of his daughter at games on Instagram, or videos of two of them playing together.
Gianna, who was often called Gigi, had a competitive streak, just like her father.In 2014, Bryant recalled a game of Candyland the two played together when his daughter Gigi, who was just three years old then.
He told The New Yorker: “You know, it’s my move,” he said. “She obviously can see that I can win, so she’ll know that I’m not winning on purpose. Then what’s that teaching?”
Bryant started playing basketball when he was aged three, and the Lakers were his favorite team when he was growing up.His grandfather would mail him videos of NBA games for Bryant to study. At an early age, Bryant also learned to play soccer and his favourite team was AC Milan. In fact, his daughter, Gianna, always wanted to follow her father’s footsteps.
Bryant described his daughter as “something else” when she’s on the court. He was always proud of his daughter describing her as a basketball star in making.
That dream came crashing on Sunday in California. They died together in helicopter’s crash.Born on August 23, 1978 Kobe Bean Bryant, a shooting guard, played his entire 20-season career in the National Basketball Association with the Los Angeles Lakers. He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, and the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Bryant led the NBA in scoring during two seasons, ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular season scoring, and ranks fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. Bryant was the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.
According to Forbes, Bryant’s net worth was estimated at $350 million in 2016. Bryant was the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He attended Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognised as the top high-school basketball player in the country. Upon graduation, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers.
As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and fans’ favourite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud between the two players, Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002.
In 2018, Bryant became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Academy Award in any category for his film Dear Basketball.
Kobe Bryant’s helicopter pilot was told he was ‘too low’ as he flew through thick fog, which had forced Los Angeles police to ground their fleet, moments before crashing into a hillside in a disaster which killed all nine on board.
Flight data shows the aircraft appeared to get into trouble above the LA Zoo, where it circled for 15 minutes at a very low altitude before slamming into a hillside at around 10am.
In air traffic control audio which was recorded shortly before the crash, the pilot was told by a controller that ‘you’re still too low level’ to be tracked by radar.
This did not appear to be a sign of distress, because the helicopter was actually ascending at the time and the controller was referring to the technical difficulty with reading data rather than warning of an imminent crash.
Five minutes later, it hit the hillside at 1,700 feet, near the home of Kourtney Kardashian. One eyewitness said they ‘didn’t hear any anomalies with the engine’, while a pilot who had previously flown Bryant on the very same helicopter said the aircraft was in ‘fantastic condition’.
Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein confirmed that the force’s Air Support Division was grounded on Sunday, adding: ‘The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying.’Bryant and others in the NBA saw much of the father’s spark and determination in his daughter, Gianna, 13.Bryant coached his daughter’s club team and would take them to watch other professional basketball teams. During games, he’d talk to them about certain plays and situations.
Gianna was quick to remind people that her father, who has three other daughters, didn’t need a son to continue the family’s basketball legacy.A 2019 viral video of Gianna’s basketball highlights showed her using moves she learned from her father.
Looking back on Kobe Bryant’s magic moments with the Lakers, Gianna was “hell-bent” on playing for Geno Auriemma at the University of Connecticut and one day for the WNBA.
Sparks coach, Derek Fisher, who won five titles with Bryant and the Lakers, said the former NBA superstar and Gianna “have similar demeanor and personality.”“We walked into the gym and everyone was on their knees and praying,” Porter told The Fresno Bee.
“(My girls) were crying and in disbelief. They were excited to play against Kobe Bryant’s daughter and take a picture with him and this tragic event happened.”
Bryant, considered as one of the greatest basketball players of his generation, retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
He finished 20 years with the Lakers as a prolific scorer with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. Bryant had one of the greatest careers in recent NBA history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers franchise.
He was the league’s Most Valued Player in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion.Bryant won five NBA championship rings with the Lakers and an 18-times NBA All-Star who wore the number 24 during his career with the team.
US President Donald Trump described Kobe Bryant’s death as ‘terrible news’ in a tweet.
“Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life,” he added in a pair of tweets later on Sunday. “He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating.”
“Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all,” Trump stated.
Former President Barack Obama also sent series of tweets on Bryant’s death saying: “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
Soccer star, David Beckham, who saw out his career playing for LA Galaxy, wrote on Instagram. “My family’s love and prayers go out to Vanessa and the girls, to Kobe’s basketball family, and of course to the families of those who were tragically lost with him yesterday.’
Tiger Wood wrote: “It’s a shocker to everyone. I’m unbelievably sad … one of the more tragic days. For me, reality is just setting in,’ a visibly shaken Woods says in the footage, which was also tweeted by the PGA Tour. Tennis players Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick also paid tribute to the sporting giant.
Djokovic shared a picture with Bryant, writing: ‘My heart truly mourns today. Kobe was a great mentor and friend to me.’
Meanwhile Roddick shared a video of Bryant appearing to coach his daughter Gianna on the sidelines of basketball game.‘I’ve admired Kobe from afar for so long.’ Roddick wrote. ‘Nobody is invincible in this life. Love harder. Be better. Never punt on a day. Kobe didn’t.’
Soccer star Didier Drogba also shared photos alongside Bryant and echoed the sentiments of Djokovic.
“Thank you for all the advices and stories we shared.’ The former Chelsea ace wrote. ‘Man you are a true Champion and a great Man. May you and your lovely daughter rest in heaven.’