As reported earlier, it was confirmed that former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has died at the age of 41. In a terrible update to that story, it has been confirmed that in addition to the NBA star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, was among those on the helicopter when it crashed.
TMZ Sports reported first that Bryant was one of five people who was killed after a helicopter crashed in Calabasas on Sunday morning. The news was confirmed to ESPN and the AP as well. Now TMZ and ESPN have said that Bryant was joined on the helicopter ride by his daughter Gianna, as well as by a fellow parent and young player. Reps for Bryant reportedly told TMZ that all four were on their way to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice in Thousand Oaks.
Kobe traveled via helicopter often for years from his home in South Orange County to Los Angeles, as it was reportedly a less than 30-minute ride in comparison to driving.
Eyewitnesses also told TMZ that they could hear his helicopter engine sputter before it crashed. The official cause of this is currently under investigation.
Kobe and Gianna leave behind Vanessa three other girls, daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri, the latter just being born in July.
Bryant had a storied career, going straight from high school to the NBA, becoming a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, a two-time Finals MVP and NBA Most Valuable player in 2008. He retired from the game after the 2015-2016 season. He was just really settling into life after basketball, creating the Mamba Sports Academy, coaching Gianna and he even won an Academy Award in 2018 for his work on the animated short film Dear Basketball. Most important to Bryant though was his family.
He was using his years of retirement, among other things, to just spend more time with his daughters after playing for about 20 years professionally. He told Lewis Howes on the podcast The School of Greatness that he still lived a disciplined life, but got to do it alongside the people he loved most and pass that on to his girls.
“When I get up in the morning [to exercise], my daughter goes with me,” he said in 2018. “She goes with me before school and it becomes a daddy-daughter thing. Through that process, she understands the value of hard work.”
Bryant also shut down people who pushed the idea that he would need a son to truly move forward his legacy. He said daughter Gianna in particular was determined to take it far.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me. They’ll be like, ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy! You and V gotta have a boy, somebody to carry on the tradition, the legacy,'” he told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018. “She’s like, ‘Oye, I got this. You don’t need a boy for that. I got this.’ I’m like, ‘That’s right, you got this!'”
May the NBA legend and Gianna rest in peace.
Hit the flip for photos of Kobe with Gianna and the rest of his family from over the years.