Kobe Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41.
Bryant died in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. A different person familiar with the case confirmed Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was killed. Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter and that all were presumed dead. No names were released.
Both of the AP’s unnamed sources spoke on condition of anonymity because few details of the crash had been released publicly. The crash happened around 10 a.m.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76, and it was not known what caused the crash.
Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County for much of his adult life, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s notorious traffic. He often travelled to practices and games by helicopter before his playing career ended in 2016, and he kept up the practice after retirement as he attended to his business ventures.
The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks, California.
Bryant, who had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa, dedicated himself to boosting women’s sports in recent years, coaching and mentoring basketball players. Gianna, better known as Gigi, was a talented basketball player.
Bryant retired nearly four years ago as the third-leading scorer in NBA history, finishing two decades with the Lakers as a prolific shooter with a sublime all-around game and a relentless competitive ethic. He held that spot in the league scoring ranks until Saturday night, when the Lakers’ LeBron James passed him during a game in Philadelphia, Bryant’s hometown.
“Continuing to move the game forward (at)KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.”
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.”
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 most popular athlete and one of the city’s most beloved public figures.
The Lakers’ next game isn’t until 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.”
The NBA kept its games on as scheduled when the news broke, but the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto 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.
Bryant opened a production company and entered the entertainment field in retirement. He won an Academy Award 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. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court. Bryant’s adulation remained strong in Los Angeles even during the sexual assault allegations.
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 MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion. He 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.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of loosing my niece Gigi & my brother (at)KobeBryant,” O’Neal wrote on Twitter. “I’m sick right now.”
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 Michael Jordan. After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening 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,” James said.
James later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing.
“He had zero flaws offensively,” James said. “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 was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life. He entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally. He spoke four languages, and was a huge part of the NBA’s international growth, travelling the world, 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 Spanish star Pau Gasol 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.
No NBA player brought the buzz to Toronto like the late Kobe Bryant – Toronto Sun
No visiting player — not Michael Jordan, not Allen Iverson, not even Stephen Curry — brought the buzz to a Toronto Raptors game that Kobe Bryant did during his 20-year NBA career. When Kobe’s Lakers were in town — only 16 times in all, since he played in the other conference — the stands were always dotted with hundreds of Kobe jerseys and his every move was often cheered.
Bryant died in tragic circumstances in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, herself a budding basketball star, and reportedly seven others. They were reportedly on the way to a nearby hoops practice. Bryant had famously travelled by helicopter to games and practices at Staples Center while a player for years in order to get around the notorious Los Angeles traffic.
It’s a where were you moment. Like when Princess Diana perished in 1997, or at least for Canadian sports fans, when Roy Halladay’s plane went down in 2017.
Bryant idolized and patterned himself in both game and mannerisms after Michael Jordan and then became that same type of Jordan figure to a whole new generation of players who revered him, along with countless fans.
“He was like a little brother to me,” Jordan said in a statement on Sunday.
“The sad part about today is he was the one everyone looked up to especially this generation of players,” added Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce.
“To see the way he was coming out of retirement in playing to being just a leader of people, WNBA, AAU programs, children’s books. We lost a leader.”
Bryant had spoken about youngsters looking up to him just a few years ago while in Toronto. “Been in NBA for half my life. When I first started playing the other all-stars were my kids’ age,” Bryant had said.
“Feels good to speak to them and share my knowledge and carry on the tradition of the NBA.”
The tradition of the NBA will always include a large helping of Kobe Bryant highlights. Bryant played all 20 of his seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and retired in 2016 as the NBA’s third-leading scorer and a five-time champion, winning a pair of NBA Finals MVP awards. He was an 18-time all-star and made the All-NBA first team 11 times and was one of the world’s most recognizable faces over the past two decades.
In a weird coincidence, new Lakers star LeBron James passed Bryant in scoring on Saturday night in Bryant’s native Philadelphia and went on a lengthy post-game monologue tracing his long relationship with Bryant and praising his legacy. Hours later, Bryant was gone.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his other three daughters. TMZ reported a fire broke out on board and there were reports of the engine sputtering before the crash.
The son of former NBA player Joe (Jellybean) Bryant, Kobe, also known as The Black Mamba and Bean, entered the league straight from Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia and also grew up in Italy, after his father had left to play in Europe, but moved back to the U.S. in 1991. He orchestrated a trade to the Lakers, his favourite team as a child, at the 1996 draft, after Charlotte selected him 13th overall. Bryant would team with marquee free agent signing Shaquille O’Neal and turn the Lakers into a powerhouse and by the turn of the Millennium, one of the most imposing dynasties in NBA history. The Lakers won three straight titles, and then two more after Shaq left and Bryant became the team’s undisputed top player (in 2009 and 2010).
Bryant had some history with Toronto. He averaged 26.6 points — only six have averaged more — in those 16 visits, starting with an inauspicious 10 in 17 minutes as an 18-year-old playing just his fourth career game back in 1996. There was a 46-point clinic in 2008, a 40-piece in 2000 and a 27-point, 16 rebound, nine assist gem in 2010, amongst others.
Bryant also made his 18th, and final, all-star appearance at Toronto in 2016, where he shone brightest even amongst all of the NBA’s superstars. Once again, Bryant was feted like a returning king. In a bittersweet moment, Gianna rebounded for her father before the game and sat with her sisters and mother during the proceedings.
“They were sitting right behind the bench, so I was talking to them virtually the whole game,” Bryant said at the time. “They’ve enjoyed this as much as I have, coming to these arenas.”
Another of Bryant’s biggest moments also had a Toronto connection. Who could forget the day in 2006 when Bryant put a hurting on the Raptors. On that winter day, with the Lakers down big, he got as hot as just about any player ever has, finishing with 81 points in a victory. Only Wilt Chamberlain has ever scored more in a game. The historic performance was later immortalized in classic fashion in a commercial that had Bryant running into ex- Raptor Jalen Rose, who spent some time guarding him, unsuccessfully, that day. Bryant orders a martini and when asked how many olives he wanted in the drink, he deadpans: “81,” stunning Rose.
Bryant shot better against the Raptors (.471 from the field) than against any other club and the 27.2 points he managed against the team where his third-highest marks.
As a player, Bryant was immensely successful, but was also polarizing because of his one-man army style of offensive ruthlessness and his lack of efficiency.
Former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey told a funny Bryant story speaking to his competitiveness and confidence after Bryant’s final game in Toronto.
In his first all-star appearance, a still teenaged Bryant waved the league’s MVP out of the post so that he could run an isolation play.
“Karl Malone yelled over to (West head coach George Karl), ‘George, get me out of here,’ some choice words. ‘I can’t play with these young guys.’ That’s how much (swagger) Kobe had at the time,” Casey, a part of Karl’s coaching staff, recalled.
“At the time. It was just the fact that he had so much confidence that even with all of these old players around, he cleared them out so he could go ISO on somebody. It wasn’t too long, after those first few years, that he gained confidence and could back it up.”
His legion of supporters would not hear of any criticism of his game though. His relationship with O’Neal was an up-and-down one at times, but Shaq mourned the loss of his “brother” and “niece” on Sunday.
Off the court, Bryant’s legacy will always be marred somewhat by whatever happened in Colorado back in 2003. He was charged with sexual assault, but the charges were eventually dropped and a civil suit was settled out of court.
Bryant would later become one of the strongest advocates for women’s sports, especially the WNBA, a supporter of many charities, a filmmaker and an author.
A complicated, unforgettable figure.
And one gone far too soon.
Everyone had something to say about Kobe Bryant over the years, including the man himself. Here are some quotes from recent years that stood out from games we covered:
Bryant in 2016 at Toronto on why he was so fundamentally sound:
“I grew up around so much structure (in Italy). I didn’t start playing pick-up basketball until I came back to the States when I was 14 years old. Everything was very structured, very fundamental. Moving without the ball, setting screens the right way. All the basics.”
On how he wanted to be remembered:
“As a person who worked extremely hard every single day, who left it all out there. That’s the most important thing. It has nothing to do with talent, it has nothing to do with the championships. It has everything to do with working hard every single day, leaving no stone unturned. If you can look yourself in the mirror and say that you’ve done that. You should be happy and be proud of yourself.”
Bryant on where his 81-point game against the Raptors ranked:
“It’s right up there. I think the moment of the game was more special, not just from a basketball standpoint but from a family standpoint. It was my grandfather’s birthday who had passed away recently. My grandmother, who doesn’t like coming to the games because it makes her so nervous, flew out to LA and watched me play. So from a personal standpoint, that game has a tremendous amount of value, aside from what took place on the court.”
Bryant on what was next for him after he retired and how to fill the void of not playing basketball:
“With my passion. That’s the hard part about it. It took me about 15 years to figure out what the next step is. But I’m very excited about it and I’m extremely passionate about it and focussed on it. That is the hard challenge for athletes, to figure out what comes next, because basketball or sports or whatever it is, comes so easy, right. You’re born and this is what you do from a young age and it’s hard to figure out what the next thing is. But I’ll be fine.”
Bryant on his style not appealing to everyone:
“I think it’s that I play with a chip on my shoulder, man. I didn’t care who was out there in front of me. My job was to make your night absolutely miserable. And that was my mindset. I came out to destroy you. With me it was going to be a very long night, physically, emotionally. I think fans could sense that, competitors could sense that and it’s notA a very likeable characteristic to have. But I found comfort it in it. I think that’s why. It’s not so much that people didn’t like it, it’s that I liked the fact that I didn’t like it.”
Ex-Raptor Terrence Ross on playing Bryant for the first time:
“It was my rookie year. We played him in L.A. I didn’t play that game but it was kind of like a front seat to the Lakers show. He killed us, he killed us bad. He hit a couple threes in clutch moments, he dunked to take it into overtime so I was like, “This is like vintage Kobe. And I remember my mom was sittingA courtside and she was looking me the whole time, like, ‘This is bad for ‘y’all’. But it was fun, IA enjoyed it.”
Ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey on where Bryant ranked in terms of hardest players to design a defence against:
“He’s one of the tops. Just because he could score. Not only that, but you had to worry about him defensively. He was a roamer defensively. He was a one-man zone. He knew exactly what you were going to do, how he was going to impact the play. Defensively, he could do so much: he could do so much. He could play outside. He could play inside. Pick-and-roll. At the end of the game, they always go to the 52. They would trash the triangle and start going to Kobe. You knew you were in trouble then. That was kind of a hard thing to design a defence for, because he could do so many things.”
“In his younger days, when he got to the baseline, it was death.
It was death when he got down there. He and Michael (Jordan) … both of them had that killer, laser-like mode, vision, focus. Both of them brought their team up. They were so much alike it was scary, the thing with the tongue and the whole nine yards at that time.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich at all-star weekend in Toronto in 2016:
“You remember all the struggles against him and all the competitiveness and you respect him so much for bringing it night after night after night.”
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:
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No NBA player brought the buzz to Toronto like the late Kobe Bryant – Toronto Sun
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