By: Emily Bracher
The world received devastating news Sunday morning as reports that former NBA star, Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California. Bryant was not the only person aboard, eight other passengers were with him on what was supposed to be just a ride to a basketball tournament. The wreckage left behind no survivors.
Kobe Bryant has been considered one of the best NBA players of all time. After spending 20 years with the LA Lakers as a shooting guard, he retired in 2016. He is the father of four daughters and the husband to Vanessa Laine Bryant. After retiring, he opened Mamba Sports Academy where a collection of athletes can train.
Among those other eight people was Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, Kobe’s 13-year old daughter. Gigi followed in her father’s footsteps, having a huge passion for basketball. Her goal was to go to the University of Connecticut and then play for the WNBA.
The other seven passengers included the pilot, Ara Zobayan; college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri Atobelli and their daughter Alyssa; girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser; 13 year old Payton Chester and her mom Sarah Chester.
Investigators are currently looking for all possible causes for the crash. Most recent information shows that a thick fog was present during the time they were in the air, which now remains the main focus of the investigation. The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was given special clearance that morning to fly despite the inclement weather.
Throughout his life, Bryant became a role model and idol to many, many people. Not only fans but former teammates and mentees have been paying their respects to the Black Mamba. NBA teams have been starting off games with 24 or 8 second violations, which were Bryant’s jersey numbers. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks guard, temporarily changed his number to 8 and later in the game held the ball for an 8-second backcourt violation. Shaquille O’Neal, former teammate, exclaimed on his instagram that, “There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my niece Gigi and my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie.”
Vanessa Bryant spoke publicly for the first time, sharing her family’s pain and her gratitude for the support from fans. She is currently working on a fund to help all of the families affected by this tragedy. “There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” says Vanessa Bryant.
Fans gathered around Staples Center to mourn this loss. Many brought flowers and other items in memoriam of this legend. This is the same at the star’s former high school, Lower Merion. There is now a petition going around calling on the NBA to update their logo to honor the late Bryant. Over 2 million people have signed it so far.