The pilot flying Kobe Bryant and seven others to a youth basketball tournament did not have alcohol or drugs in his system, and all nine sustained immediately fatal injuries when their helicopter slammed into a hillside outside Los Angeles in January, according to autopsies released Friday.
The reports by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office provide a clinical but unvarnished look at just how brutal the crash was, describing broken bones, dismembered body parts and a stench of fuel on what remained of clothing that burned.
One of the most popular sports figures in Los Angeles and a celebrity around the globe, Bryant was broken beyond recognition when his body was found in the dirt outside the wreckage of the chopper. His remains had to be identified by his fingerprints.
The graphic report made it clear: Bryant and the passengers almost certainly were dead in an instant due to blunt trauma.
“These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal,” wrote Juan Carrillo, senior deputy medical examiner, in Bryant’s report.
The horrific crash that killed the 41-year-old retired Los Angeles Lakers star, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna — wearing the jersey she would have worn to play that morning, with the word “Mamba” on the front and her last name on the back — pilot Ara Zobayan and the others is considered accidental.
Bryant was headed from Orange County to his daughter’s tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on the morning of Jan. 26. The group, including one of his daughter’s coaches, and two of her teammates, encountered thick fog in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.
Zobayan, an experienced pilot who often flew Bryant, climbed sharply and had nearly succeeded breaking through the clouds when the craft took an abrupt left turn and plunged into the grassy, oak studded hills below.
When it struck the ground, it was flying at about 184 mph (296 kph) and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute. The impact caused a crater and scattered debris over an area the size of a football field in the Calabasas hills. Flames engulfed the wreckage, but burns on the bodies were determined to have occurred after death.
Bryant’s body was found on one side of the wreckage and his daughter was found in a ravine on the opposite side.
Although Bryant was unrecognizable, a forensic examination offered reminders of the all-star who soared high in the imaginations of Lakers fans and was wearing “multicolored court shoes” the day he died.
The autopsy noted a tattoo of a crown on his right shoulder, above where his wife’s name, Vanessa, was imprinted. On the lower right arm were the names of three of his four daughters: Bianka Bella, Natalia Diamante and Gianna Maria-Onore, the daughter who died with him.
The youngest girl, Capri Kobe, only 7 months old when her father died, is not mentioned.
The only drug in Bryant’s system was methylphenidate, which is sold under the brand name Ritalin and used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.
The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76. A final report is not expected for months.
The aircraft did not have a device called the Terrain Awareness and Warning System, which signals when an aircraft is in danger of hitting ground. While the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the system be mandatory for helicopters, the Federal Aviation Administration only requires it for air ambulances. Both California’s senators have called for the FAA to mandate the devices in the wake of the tragedy.
The others killed were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser, who helped Bryant coach his daughter’s basketball team; and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton. Alyssa and Payton were Gianna’s teammates.
Bryant is the only NBA player to have his team retire two numbers in his honour. He was selected last month for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A ceremony is scheduled for late August though it may be delayed until at least October because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bryant and his daughter were honoured at a star-studded public memorial Feb. 24 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, with 20,000 in attendance at the arena where Bryant spent most of his two-decade career with the Lakers. The date 2/24 corresponded with the No. 24 jersey he wore and the No. 2 worn by Gianna.
The same day, Vanessa Bryant filed a lengthy lawsuit alleging that Zobayan was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight. She has also filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after deputies allegedly shared unauthorized photos of the crash site.
Zobayan’s brother, Berge Zobayan, has said in a court filing that Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company, Island Express, says they are not responsible for damages, calling the crash, among other things, “an act of God” and “an unavoidable accident” that was beyond their control.
UFC 250 weigh-in results: Amanda Nunes, Felicia Spencer make weight for championship tilt – MMA Fighting
Saturday’s featherweight title fight is on.
UFC champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Felicia Spencer both successfully made championship weight at Friday’s official weigh-ins for UFC 250, which takes place Saturday at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
This will be Nunes’s first defense of her featherweight title. She is also the UFC’s bantamweight champion and has defended that belt five consecutive times.
See the full UFC 250 weigh-in results below:
Main card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Amanda Nunes (145) vs. Felicia Spencer (144.5)
Raphael Assuncao (136) vs. Cody Garbrandt (136)
Aljamain Sterling (136) vs. Cory Sandhagen (135.5)
Neil Magny (171) vs. Rocco Martin (170.5)
Sean O’Malley (136) vs. Eddie Wineland (136)
Preliminary Card (ESPN and ESPN +, 8 p.m. ET)
Chase Hooper (145.5) vs. Alex Caceres (146)
Gerald Meerschaert (185.5) vs. Ian Heinisch (185.5)
Cody Stamann (145.5) vs. Brian Kelleher (146)
Charles Byrd (184.5) vs. Maki Pitolo (185.5)
Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
Jussier Formiga (126) vs. Alex Perez (126)
Alonzo Menifield (205) vs. Devin Clark (205.5)
Evan Dunham (149.5) vs. Herbert Burns (149.5)
Canadian Premier League moves forward on proposed strategy for a 2020 season – Canadian Premier League
Toronto, ON – (June 5, 2020) – Today, the Canadian Premier League together with its owners, clubs and player leadership unanimously agreed on the structure and concept of a proposed strategy on the possibility of a 2020 CPL season.
The CPL feels an obligation on behalf of our players, teams, supporters and partners, to get back on the pitch and that can’t happen without the players input and support. The health and safety of all is the single most important issue and it is vital that appropriate health and safety protocols mandated by the local and Provincial officials are in place and agreed to by all stakeholders – players, clubs, owners, league and Canada Soccer, the CPL’s governing body.
“Our position since we began the journey of building the League from the ground up has been to work together,” said David Clanachan, Canadian Premier League Commissioner. “We started this process behind the scenes many weeks ago in consultation with our owners on the many details and protocols required to safely return to the field of play, and potential opportunities that may emerge. This led to the next step of a collaborative discussion with the players this week.”
Clanachan continued, “It’s been gratifying and rewarding to see how much collective enthusiasm and co-operation there has been, and we have landed in an excellent and unanimous position with our clubs and club player leadership.”
“I and the rest of the squad are looking forward with excitement, energy and enthusiasm as we work towards a return to play. The CPL has gone to the extreme in ensuring player, staff, and club safety as we discuss a new format of play for the 2020 season,” said HFX Wanderers player Alex De Carolis. “We know this season has not turned out the way we expected but we are all excited for whatever format is presented. There will be no excuses or asterisk on this 2020 season, and we will be fully prepared for the opening kick-off. We want to compete for our fans and the city of Halifax as best we can!”
“As a player, I think the ultimate goal is to get back to playing as soon as possible but under the right conditions,” said Forge FC Captain, Kyle Bekker. “This unique situation has opened the door for us as players to have open and honest direct lines of communication with the league. We value being a part of this conversation and look forward to finding the best solution possible in getting back on the field.”
“Since the suspension of sanctioned soccer on 13 March, Canada Soccer has worked closely with all stakeholders including the Canadian Premier League and our Provincial and Territorial Member Associations to ensure the health and safety of all who participate in the game of soccer in Canada,” said Peter Montopoli, Canada Soccer’s General Secretary. “Through close collaboration with the Canadian Premier League and their clubs and the sharing of Canada Soccer’s Return to Soccer Guidelines, we are pleased that the league and its clubs have solidified their plan for Return to Soccer where the provincial and local governments have permitted a return to physical activities and look forward to a return to competition soccer through this initiative soon.”
The next step will be to engage with the fans and partners as the Canadian Premier League with its Clubs work collectively to find a solution for a 2020 CPL season.
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley says Donald Trump doesn't have 'a moral bone in his body' – The Globe and Mail
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley pulled no punches Thursday, lamenting the “zero leadership” south of the border as the U.S. is ravaged by racial unrest.
The long-time U.S. skipper took square aim at President Donald Trump.
“We have a President who is completely empty. There isn’t a moral bone in his body,” Bradley told a news conference call.
“There’s no leadership. There’s no leadership from the President, there’s no leadership from the Republican senators who have sat back and been totally complicit in everything he’s done for the last three and a half years.”
Bradley urged his fellow Americans to speak with their ballot in November, saying it was “impossible to overstate” the importance of the coming election.
“I just hope that people are able to go to the polls in November and think about more than just what is good for them, more than what is good for their own status, their own business, their own tax return. I hope that people can go to the polls and understand that in so many ways, the future of our country and the future of our democracy is at stake.
“We need as many people as possible to understand that at a real level, to think about what four more years with Trump as president, what that would mean, how terrible that would be for so many people.”
Referencing racial inequality and social injustice, Bradley added: “If we want any chance to start to fix those things, then Trump can’t be president, it’s as simple as that.”
The 32-year-old Bradley has run through the gamut of emotions while watching the violence and unrest unfold in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while three police officers restrained him — one with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“I’m angry, I’m horrified, I’m sad and I’m determined to do anything and everything I can to try to be a part of the fix,” he said. “Because it has to end. And we all have to be part of that fix.”
He acknowledged that while he has much to learn on the issues, politicians, policy-makers and businesses have to be held accountable.
Bradley has criticized Trump before. In January, 2017, he said he was “sad and embarrassed” by Trump’s travel ban aimed at citizens of predominantly Muslim countries.
The TFC captain, while happy to see the MLS labour impasse over, noted there had been “some real difficult moments along the way.” That included a threat of a lockout from the league.
Such tactics “did not sit well with the players,” he said.
He also said there had been a frustrating absence of dialogue right from the beginning of talks, which he acknowledged played out against an unprecedented global threat.
“This, at a certain point for me, was about what’s right and what’s wrong in the middle of the pandemic. And the way to treat people and the way that you look after people. I kept coming back to that idea. That we have all put so much into growing the game in North America, at all levels — ownership, league office, executives coaches, players, fans.
“Everybody is important to what we’re trying to do. To try to dismiss any of the entities that I just named would be short-sighted and disrespectful because the game is about everybody.”
He said he would have loved to have seen everyone get on the same page early on and find a way “to cut through the [bull].”
“To just say, ‘This is where we are right now. Nobody has a playbook. Nobody has any answers, but how are we going to come out better and stronger from all of this?’ … I think conversations would have carried so much more weight and I think we would have been able to avoid so much of the way certain things played out.”
Bradley underwent ankle surgery in January to repair an injury suffered in the MLS Cup final loss in Seattle on Nov 10. His rehab over, he was part of a small group training session Thursday.
“I’m doing well,” he said. “I’m continuing to make progress. … At this point, physically, I feel really good. My ankle feels really good. And now it’s just about training. Getting back into real training in a way that now prepares me for games.”
Still, he said injuries are an issue in the league’s return to play given the time that has passed since the league suspended play March 12.
“That is a big concern,” he said. “And it’s not a big concern only amongst players. I know that has been a real topic amongst coaches and sports science staff and medical staff.”
While teams will do everything possible to get the players ready, a compressed schedule at the Florida tournament that awaits teams won’t help injury fears, he said.
“That certainly is a big question. Maybe the biggest question when you get past the initial health and safety stuff of COVID, among players and coaches and technical staff,” he said.
“How are we going to give ourselves the best chance to win, but also do it in a way where guys are at their highest level both technically and physically.”
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