On Sunday, Jan. 26, NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed along with seven others in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. This tragic event has stunned the entire world.
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby answered the press’ questions. In his response, he said, “At 9:47 a.m. the Los Angeles County Fire Department received a 911 call of a potential helicopter down and a brush fire…Upon arrival, our firefighters discovered approximately a quarter-acre brush fire that resulted from a crash on the hillside.”
The helicopter was in the air despite foggy conditions, according to a report from the New York Times. An air traffic controller warned the pilot, “You’re still too low for flight following at this time,” according to CNN. Bryant and his daughter were headed to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for a youth basketball event, according to CBS News. The helicopter circled the city of Glendale for 14 minutes before eventually taking a sharp turn and ultimately hitting the ground. Due to the brush fire caused by the crash, first responders were prevented from immediately getting to the site. After the fire calmed down, medical experts confirmed nine deaths and no survivors.
The other victims on the helicopter have been confirmed to be baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, his daughter Alyssa, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and pilot AraZobayan.
Following the incident, investigators have yet to establish the cause of the crash. The only finding that has recently been released to the public is that the helicopter was not equipped with a terrain alarm system. This could have warned the pilot that he was approaching a hillside, National Transportation Safety Board officials said on Tuesday, Jan 28.
The pilot had 8,200 hours of flight time as of records submitted in July. His record, along with the records of any crew, will be examined during the investigation.
Known as a five-time NBA champion for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe’s death affected more than just LA, it affected the world. Regardless of the sport, many professional athletes expressed their condolences. Brazilian soccer player Neymar dedicated a goal celebration to Kobe by holding up the number eight. Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo took to Instagram to say, “So sad to hear the heartbreaking news of the deaths of Kobe and his daughter Gianna.” On ESPN’s talk show, First Take, NFL running back Saquon Barkley shared his thoughts: “I live by Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality.”
Filled with tears, Shaquille O’Neal and the TNT crew consisting of Earnie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith were joined by Dwyane Wade, Reggie Miller and Jerry West inside an empty Staples Center-Lakers stadium-to commemorate Kobe’s career. O’Neal said, “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while.. it definitely changes me… I’ve lost a little brother.”
Prominent in the NBA, players, coaches and reporters alike are sharing the grief. “It is hard to comprehend all of this. Just having those moments with Kobe, it was always about pressing forward and at this time it is so hard to do so,” Nets’ shooting guard Kevin Durant told reporters. “He had that DNA that very few athletes can ever have,” Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers said.
Recently, NBA games have been starting off differently with each team taking either a 24-second shot clock violation or an eight-second violation in honor of Kobe’s jersey numbers. Entire cities, groups on social media and the sports world are honoring the “Mamba Mentality.”
On Instagram, LeBron shared his thoughts on Kobe’s passing: “I’m not ready but here I go.” In the post, Lebron commemorated the “friendship/bond/brotherhood” between him and Kobe. “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially and it’s my responsibility to put this s*** on my back and keep it going!”
Breaking silence, On Jan. 29, Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, commented on her husband’s passing. In an Instagram post, she said, “My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time.” “We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe… and my beautiful, sweet Gianna,” she typed.Nearing the end of the post, she further asked on behalf of the family for respect and privacy to “navigate through this new reality.”