Greg Beacham, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, January 26, 2020 2:47PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 26, 2020 11:14PM EST
LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with sublime skills and an unquenchable competitive fire.
He earned Los Angeles’ eternal adoration during his two decades as the fierce soul of the beloved Lakers, and he was respected by basketball fans from every place with a hoop and a dream, including his native Philadelphia and in Italy, his other childhood home.
Less than four years into his retirement, Bryant was seizing new challenges and working to inspire his daughters’ generation through sports and storytelling when his next chapter ended shockingly early.
Bryant, the 18-time All-Star who won five NBA championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career all with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41.
The crash occurred in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Bryant was killed, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, and a different person familiar with the case confirmed Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died.
Both of the AP’s unnamed sources spoke on condition of anonymity because few details of the crash had been released publicly.
Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter, and all were presumed dead. No names were released.
Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s notorious traffic. He travelled to practices and games by helicopter before his playing career ended in 2016. He continued to use them after retirement as he attended to his new ventures, which included a burgeoning entertainment company that recently produced an Academy Award-winning animated short film.
The basketball world and Los Angeles reacted with an outpouring of pain and disbelief. Bryant is all but certain to be elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year, when he is eligible for the first time.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary … but he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.”
The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Newbury Park, California. A youth basketball tournament – the Mamba Cup – was scheduled for a second day of competition Sunday at the facility, and Bryant had attended the opening day Saturday with Gianna.
Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, had four daughters. He had been a vocal booster of women’s sports since his retirement, coaching and mentoring basketball players around the world while also backing women’s soccer and other endeavours.
Bryant retired as the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, all scored in Lakers purple and gold. The self-nicknamed Black Mamba was a prolific, gifted shooter with a sublime all-around game and a relentless, hard-edged work ethic that thrilled his fans and almost everyone else, even those who reviled him.
Taking cues from Michael Jordan, one of his idols, Bryant played with a swagger that compelled him to talk trash, to guard the toughest opponents, to play through pain and to demand the ball at the biggest moments of games.
He didn’t always hit them, but Bryant never stopped trying.
“He had zero flaws offensively,” LeBron James said Saturday night. “Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot from mid-range. He could post. He could make free throws. … He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.”
Bryant held the No. 3 spot in the league scoring ranks until the day before his death, when James passed him during the Lakers’ game in Philadelphia.
On Saturday night, James said he was “happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball player to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.”
Bryant always reacted graciously to the achievements of James, his former on-court rival who joined the Lakers in 2018.
“Continuing to move the game forward â†•KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”
Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs great who also retired in 2016, is also expected to be part of the Hall of Fame class that will be announced at the NBA’s All-Star weekend next month. Duncan, now a Spurs assistant, was visibly emotional on the bench during their game against Toronto on Sunday.
Bryant had been spending more time with his daughters since leaving the league. The Bryants’ first daughter, Natalia, turned 17 a week ago. Bianka Bella Bryant is 3 years old, and Capri Kobe Bryant was born last June.
Gianna, better known as Gigi, had a promising youth career and a competitive pugnaciousness that reminded everybody of her dad. Bryant sat with her courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game late last year, clearly passing along his wisdom to his daughter.
Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018 that Gianna wanted to play in the WNBA and recalled how fans would often approach him saying “you gotta have a boy, you gotta someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.”
Gianna took exception: “She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,”’ Bryant recalled.
News of Bryant’s death inspired an outpouring of grief around the sports world and beyond, but it was felt particularly painfully in Los Angeles, where Bryant was unquestionably the sprawling city’s most popular athlete and one of its most beloved people. Buildings from downtown to Los Angeles International Airport were illuminated in Lakers purple and gold.
The Lakers’ next game is Tuesday night against the crosstown rival Clippers, but hundreds of fans – many in Bryant jerseys and Lakers gear – spontaneously gathered at Staples Center and in the surrounding LA Live entertainment complex on Sunday, weeping and staring at video boards with Bryant’s image before the Grammy awards ceremony.
“I thought he was going to live forever,” Lakers great Magic Johnson told KCBS-TV. “I thought he was invincible. … There was nobody who took more pride in putting on that Laker uniform than Kobe. Nobody. He was just special. We will miss him and we’ll remember him for his greatness, but let’s not forget how he impacted the world, too.”
Bryant retired as the Lakers’ franchise leader in points, games played, 3-pointers and steals – no small feats on a franchise that has employed many of the greatest players in basketball history.
The NBA kept its games on as scheduled when the news broke. The Spurs and Raptors both took voluntary 24-second shot clock violations at the start of their game in honour of Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the second half of his career.
Several other teams followed up by deliberately taking delays of 24 and 8 seconds, honouring both of his jersey numbers. Many players were seen crying before their games, and James looked emotional on the tarmac when he got off the Lakers’ team plane from Philadelphia.
Bryant’s future appeared to be limitless in retirement, whether in sports or entertainment. He opened a production company shortly after leaving the Lakers, saying he was just as passionate about storytelling as he had been about his sport. He won an Oscar in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball, ” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN.
In 2003, Bryant was charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He had said the two had consensual sex, and the charge was eventually dropped when the women declined to testify in a trial. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court.
Bryant went on to become one of the NBA’s most popular players and the face of the Lakers. Winning a record four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, he was the overall league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, but he also earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.
He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
A two-time Olympic gold medallist with the dominant U.S. team, Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. In December 2017, the Lakers hung banners retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters in an unprecedented double honour.
Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players, most of whom grew up either idolizing Bryant or absorbing his work ethic and competitive spirit in the same way Bryant’s generation learned from Jordan. Bryant exemplified and passed on that mentality to James, Stephen Curry and the NBA’s current wave of high-scoring superstars.
After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening in awe to Bryant when the superstar came to speak at a childhood basketball camp.
“I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” said James, who later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing.
Bryant was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life, and he grew up from a teenager to a respected veteran in the unforgiving Hollywood spotlight.
He entered the NBA draft straight out of suburban Philly’s Lower Merion High School in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally. Bryant was occasionally estranged from his now-65-year-old father, but reconciled.
Bryant spoke four languages and played a major role in the NBA’s international growth over his two decades in the league, travelling the world and connecting with athletes in other sports and celebrities.
The Lakers acquired the 17-year-old Bryant in a trade shortly after Charlotte drafted him, and he immediately became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport alongside O’Neal, who had signed with the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie, and the Lakers gradually grew into a team that won three consecutive championships.
Bryant and Gasol, the Spanish star, formed the nucleus of another championship team in 2008, reaching three straight NBA Finals and winning two more titles.
Between those title runs and before the quiet final years of his career, Bryant accomplished innumerable feats including an 81-point game against Toronto in January 2006. Bryant’s final NBA seasons were dogged by injuries, but he still went into retirement with that jaw-dropping 60-point performance against Utah.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
These are the other 8 victims who died in the Kobe Bryant crash – Global News
A total of nine people were killed when Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down in foggy conditions on Sunday, investigators said. The helicopter was on its way to a girls’ basketball game when it crashed.
So far, here’s what we know about the people who died with Bryant in the crash.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash near Los Angeles
Gianna Bryant, 13, was the second-oldest of her father’s four children, all of them girls. She was commonly known as Gigi and was a rising star in girls’ basketball.
Bryant took an active role in coaching Gianna at his Mamba Sports Academy, and he once touted her as a basketball star in the making.
He told Jimmy Kimmel in an 2018 interview that he didn’t need a son to carry on his legacy because he had Gianna.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” Bryant told Kimmel. “And they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.’
“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,’” Bryant recalled. “I’m like, ‘That’s right. Yes, you do. You got this.’”
Alyssa, Kerri and John Altobelli
Alyssa Altobelli, 13, and her parents, Kerri and John Altobelli, were also killed in the crash.
John Altobelli, 56, was the longtime head coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team in Southern California.
The college described him as a “coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend” who had worked there for 27 years.
“He truly personified what it meant to be a baseball coach,” the school’s athletic director Jason Kehler said in a statement. “The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none — he treated them like family.”
Alyssa played on Gianna’s team at Mamba, CBS News reports. Kobe Bryant praised Alyssa’s defensive game in an Instagram video last November.
Christine Mauser, 38, was a girls’ basketball coach at a private school and a wife and mother, according to Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley.
Christina Mauser’s husband, Matt, shared his memories of her in an emotional interview with the Today show.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “I got three small kids and am trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom.”
He explained that Bryant had hand-picked his wife to be an assistant coach for Gianna’s Mamba Academy basketball team.
“He picked her because she was amazing,” Mauser said. “I was so proud of her and she was so happy.”
Christina Mauser is survived by children aged 11, nine and three.
“She was beautiful, smart, funny,” Matt Mauser said.
Sarah and Payton Chester
Sarah Chester and her middle school-aged daughter, Payton, were on the helicopter due to a break in their normal routine, Payton’s grandmother Catherine George told NBC News.
“They had to get on the helicopter as a convenience today,” George said. “They usually drove by car.”
Todd Schmidt, who was the principal at Payton’s former elementary school, described the Chester family as “engaged, supportive, encouraging and full of mischief and laughter.”
“This family made such a huge impact,” Schmidt wrote on Facebook. “While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important … Their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken.”
Friends and colleagues have identified the pilot as Ara Zobayan, the New York Times reports.
Zobayan was a longtime pilot and a dedicated flight instructor, student Darren Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. He added that Zobayan was Bryant’s private pilot whom he trusted.
“He doesn’t let anyone else fly him around but Ara,” Kemp told the L.A. Times.
Zobayan received his commercial pilot certificate in 2007, CBS reports.
—With files from The Associated Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Kobe Bryant will be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame this year, report says – CBC.ca
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is bypassing the normal election process and making the late Kobe Bryant the first inductee of the 2020 class, The Athletic reported Monday.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said, per the report. “Kobe will be honoured the way he should be.”
Bryant, 41, died Sunday along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif.
As an 18-time all-star, a five-time NBA champion and the fourth-leading scorer in league history, Bryant was virtually assured of being elected on the first ballot in his first year of eligibility this year anyway.
The other 2020 finalists will be announced Feb. 14 during all-star weekend. The rest of the class will be announced in April at the Final Four, and Bryant’s posthumous induction will take place in Springfield, Mass., on Aug. 29.
WATCH | Raptors, Spurs honour Kobe Bryant with on-court tribute:
These 2020 Grammy Performances Were So Heartfelt, They Made Everyone Emotional – Showbiz Cheat Sheet
Over the years, viewers have gotten to witness some pretty incredible musical performances take place on The Grammys‘ stage. Some of which have left many of us speechless and are still talked about to this day.
Now that the 2020 Grammy Awards have come and gone, there are a few performances from the night that are very deserving of being added to the list of the most unforgettable and emotional moments in the award show’s history.
Lizzo kicked off the show with an emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant
Last night was a bittersweet evening as many people mourned the death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who died the same day in a helicopter crash.
News of his tragic passing sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, leaving many fans and celebrities experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions.
With this unexpected news coming to light a few hours before the 2020 Grammy Awards, many celebs taking the stage that night decided to honor the late legend with vulnerable yet powerful performances.
Lizzo kicked off the ceremony with a showstopping performance she dedicated to Bryant. “This night is for Kobe,” she shouted before performing a medley of her hit songs, “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts.”
Oh, and we can’t forget about that impeccable flute performance!
Demi Lovato couldn’t hold back tears while performing “Anyone”
Demi Lovato made her comeback to the Grammys stage and music with an emotional performance of her new song, “Anyone,” which she penned just days before her drug overdose in July 2018.
The singer took to the stage wearing a white ballgown with only a pianist accompanying her. Just a few seconds after the song began, Lovato was overcome with emotion and ended up restarting the track as tears rolled down her face.
Lovato went on to deliver a tearful yet powerful performance that earned her a standing ovation from the audience and viewers.
Billie Eilish delivered a beautiful rendition of “When The Party’s Over”
In addition to being the night’s biggest winner, Billie Eilish also gave one of the most incredible performances of the evening with her intimate rendition of “When The Party’s Over” from her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?.
The singer took the stage and wowed fans with her beautiful vocals as her brother/ producer, Finneas O’Connell, played the dreamy tune on the piano.
No one could seem to take their eyes off of her as she poured herself into the emotions of every lyric while giving the most heartfelt performance of her career.
Camila Cabello’s heartfelt tribute to her dad
Just when we thought we cried enough during the 2020 Grammy Awards, Camila Cabello goes and delivers an emotional performance that made everyone watching shed a tear or two.
Before the show aired, The Grammys teased that Cabello would be performing a song dedicated to a “special man” in her life.
While many of us thought the song would be all about her boyfriend, Shawn Mendes, the emotional track turned out to be all about her father.
During her performance, the former Fifth Harmony member belted out the lyrics, which shined a light on the special relationship she has with the first man who’s ever loved her.
As she sang, home videos of the father-daughter duo played in the background. Near the end, Cabello walked up to her dad, who had tears streaming down his face, and sang the last few verses.
After wrapping her performance, Cabello and her father embraced as the audience wiped tears from their eyes.
Nipsey Hussle remembered during a powerful tribute
Toward the end of the night, John Legend, DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch, and YG took to the Grammys stage to give a heartfelt performance paying homage to Nipsey Hussle, who tragically passed away in March 2019 after being gunned down in Los Angeles.
“Long live Nipsey Hussle,” Khaled said as he took the stage, encouraging the audience to rise to their feet. Legend then accompanied Khaled on piano for a performance of Hussle’s posthumous track “Higher.”
The performance ended with images of Hussle of NBA star Kobe Bryant projected on the screen and Khaled sharing a few heartfelt words honoring their legacies.
“Rest in peace, Nispey Nussle. Rest in Peace Kobe Bryant,” the DJ said. “Long live Nip. Long live Kobe. The marathon continues.”
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