Students, coaches and audiences anxiously awaited the arrival of Bryant and all those aboard the helicopter to a youth basketball tournament, hosted at Kobe Bryant’s basketball academy. That was an arrival that would never happen.
On Jan. 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. In the same accident, the Bryant family also lost their beloved daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. John Altobelli, 56; Keri Altobelli, 46; and Alyssa Altobelli, 13 were also killed in the crash. Assistant Coach Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50 also passed away in the accident. Mother and daughter Sarah Chester, 45 and Payton Chester, 13 were the final victims of the crash.
Though speculation is running rampant, the true nature and reason for the crash is still under investigation and no official cause has been found.
The passing of Kobe Bean Bryant, legendary basketball player, and known family man was a shock to all. Known also as the ‘Black Mamba,’ Kobe was an all-star basketball player that came into the NBA draft right out of high school in 1996. Famously sporting the number 24, the number itself quickly became a household symbol Kobe‘s legacy, on and off the basketball court.
Kobe paved the way for so many young athletes, and it is evident his passing has affected the young generation of players. Since Kobe‘s passing, the outpour of love, support and stories of Kobe‘s character and work ethic have been nothing short of inspiring. Tattoos, drawings and songs have been made and dedicated in Bryant’s honor. A petition has surfaced that is petitioning to get Kobe’s silhouette as the new NBA logo. Some have created specialized hashtags such as #GirlDad, #TwentyForever, #Mamba and #Mambacita.
Former teammates Lamar Odom, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James are just a few who have been publicly devastated by Kobe and Gianna’s sudden passing with some referring to Kobe as a brother and Gianna as their niece. Others lost in their own emotions and unaware as to how this could happen. Some even question their own legacy in comparison to Kobe’s.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, was by far the most anticipated statement. Through Instagram, Vanessa voiced what a true loss her family has gone through, just three days after the accident. She thoroughly thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and the support they have received since the incident. She explained her complete shock and disbelief and contemplated how her family was expected to move on from such a devastating blow, but assured her followers that they would proudly honor Kobe and her ‘Gigi.’
The pain of her post has prompted a lot of talk around the way that information of this caliber tends to be communicated to the general public before the family is notified as well as media pressuring victims of a devastating loss to speak prematurely or before they are truly ready. Petitions have surfaced in an attempt to get FOX to cancel TMZ.
The most coincidental moment of this event is the symbolic passing of the torch from Bryant to James. Less than twenty-four hours prior to Bryant’s passing, James surpassed his friend and former teammate’s scoring record and taking over the reign as the third-highest scorer in NBA history. James has taken his responsibility
In this accident, three young basketball pupils lost their lives and their chance to play.
Specifically, Gianna and Alyssa were not only teammates but close friends. The two shared the love of basketball and were both instrumental players at the Mamba Academy. Gigi had hopes of being the one to carry on her father’s legacy, regardless of him only having daughters. Alyssa, although being raised by a baseball coach father, made a name for herself within the academy as a basketball star. Gianna’s jersey, #2, was retired at Harbor Day School a little over a week after the crash.
Communities everywhere have shown their appreciation, admiration and love for the lives lost on that dreadful day.
Kobe and Gianna were laid to rest in a private ceremony on February 7th, 2020.
A tribute to Kobe is scheduled to occur at the All-Star Game on February 16, 2020.