Basketball Icon Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gianna Dead in Private Helicopter Crash
CALABASAS, CA (January 26, 2020) – Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, was among 9 people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas. He was 41-year-old.
The private helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m., PT. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m.
First responders arrived in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California. This is about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Newbury Park, California.
Nine people were aboard the helicopter. There were no survivors.
According to reports, Bryant was on his way to a youth basketball game, the Mamba Cup, with his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna Bryant.
Orange Coast College baseball coaching legend John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa were among the victims.
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley identified another victim as Christina Mauser, who served as an assistant girls basketball coach at the Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar. Her husband, Matthew Mauser, confirmed the family’s loss via social media.
Friends later identified the pilot of the helicopter as Ara Zobayan.
As late as 10:39 p.m., ET Saturday, Bryant was active on social media, congratulating LeBron James on Twitter during the Lakers’ 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
James inscribed his sneakers with “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” in gold marker before the game Saturday, showing respect for Bryant, an 18-time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
A source told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk that the Lakers found out about Bryant’s death while on the team plane flying home from Philadelphia.
Bryant lived just south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County. He often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California’s notorious traffic.
Bryant traveled 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.
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 endeavors.
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. He had a relentless, hard-edged work ethic that thrilled his fans and almost everyone else, even those who reviled him.
He finished his career as an 18-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection, two time NBA Finals MVP and the 2008 NBA MVP.
The cause of this tragic crash is currently unknown. The Federal Aviation Administration will work with the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the crash.
No words can mend the broken hearts and sorrow felt during this delicate moment. Our deepest condolences are with the bereaved families of Kobe Bryant and other victims.
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