On Feb. 7, investigators release new information about the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash from Jan. 26 that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna “Gigi” and 7 other people.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, “the helicopter that crashed last month in Calabasas, California showed no signs of engine failure”. The federal investigators will continue with further investigation to find the cause of deaths.
In addition to finding no engine trouble, “the finding that the chopper didn’t lose power before slamming into the hillside is one key conslusion, but many remain unquestioned” said Richard Winton, writer for the Los Angeles Times.
At first, no one knew who exactly was on the plane. TMZ first reported the news of Bryant’s passing. There were so many other new sources that were stating so many different things like Bryant being alone, to Rick Fox being on the plane as well, then news broke out that his whole family was on the plane as well and so on. This left millions of people through social media in a frenzy.
In the meantime, the passing of Bryant swiftly echoed with shock throughout the National Basketball Association (NBA), Hollywood and across the world. Amid countless tributes from fans, fellow athletes, celebrities and politicians, thousands remembered his professional career, which ended in Los Angeles, where it began.
Bryant entered the NBA 1996 draft right after high school, becoming the thirteenth draft pick to the Charlotte Hornets that immediately traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant was a big influence in the basketball world. Bryant played a total of 20 seasons in professional basketball.
During his time with the Lakers, he won 5 championships in the toughest era of basketball and played many of the greatest ball players during their prime.
During Bryant’s basketball career, he won numerous additional awards, including NBA All-Rookie Team in 1997, two Best NBA Player Espy Award in 2008 and 2010, two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in 2009 and 2010, Black Entertainment Television (BET) Award for Sportsman of the Year in 2002, 2003 and 2008, and two Olympic Gold Medals in 2008 and 2012.
In addition to playing on the Lakers, Bryant played on the NBA All-Star West Coast team 18 times and then played 2 times on the Olympics USA Men's Basketball Team.
In 2016, after years of playing through many injuries and his body wearing down Bryant finally announced that he would be retiring from the NBA. On April 13, fans all around the world watched Bryant play his last game as a Laker. By the fourth quarter of the game, the Lakers were down.
But inside the Los Angeles’s Staples Center that did not really matter. Lakers fans in the seats and the millions of people watching the game were watching for one reason, to witness Bryant’s final night in gold and purple. Prior to this game, Bryant shared the news in a short poem titled ‘Dear Basketball,’ which went on to inspire his Oscar-winning animated short film in 2018.
“Up until the final game, Bryant’s last season had been a difficult hit for the Lakers. The team had won only 16 games and was expected to finish with its worst-ever record.” said Allyson Chiu and Katie Shepherd, writers for the Washington Post.
Continuing in their article, “With roughly 9 1/2 minutes left on the clock, Bryant knocked in a three-pointer that brought fans to their feet, sparking deafening chants of ‘Kobe. Kobe. Kobe’. The crowd barely had time to settle down before Bryant hit another three, 30 seconds later. Bryant was on the cusp of 50 points, having broken the record for most points scored by an NBA player in a career finale. His supporters, who had waited all season long for this night, were ecstatic.” said Chiu and Shepherd.
Then “As the clock wound down, Bryant was relentless, driving around defenders to the hoop and taking shots left and right. Then, with just over 30 seconds to go, Bryant pulled up and fired off a midrange jumper to give the Lakers a one-point lead. Two made free throws and an assist later, Bryant had secured 60 points for himself, and even better, a 101-96 victory for his team. Bryant’s teammates mobbed him on the court, even though there were still 4.1 seconds left in the game. Applause filled the arena as the Laker legend walked to the sideline one last time and embraced his coach, Byron Scott” said Chiu and Shepherd.
After the final buzzer, a still-sweating Bryant gave an emotional farewell to the stadium and fans watching at home. That is a game that many fans have now posted about in remembering Bryant’s legacy.
“This has been absolutely beautiful. I can’t believe it’s come to an end. You guys will always be in my heart. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” Bryant said.
Just before dropping the microphone onto the polished court floor and ending his speech with “Mamba out.”
Fresh out of retirement, Bryant’s jersey numbers for the Lakers #8 and #24 were retired. Bryant won the ESPY Icon Award, opened the Mamba Sports Academy, where he trained young athletes including, his daughter Gigi and even coached her basketball team there. The academy opened a month after his retirement with the Lakers that by 2018 supported over 50,000 athletes.
"Sports Academy has perfected the art and science of athletic training, from elite players to young kids getting started," Bryant said, continuing with "MAMBA Sports Academy is a natural expansion of my commitment to educating and empowering the next generation of kids through sports”.
As stated by Joan Niesen with The Guardian,“The NBA superstar was, by all accounts, a good father and a family man”.
Bryant was married to Vanessa Bryant for 20 years and they had 4 daughters throughout their marriage. Over the years, the public got to see Bryant’s bond over basketball with his second eldest daughter Gigi.
During his last ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ interview in 2019 prior his passing, Bryant addressed his fans comment about needing to have a son to carry on his basketball legacy.
Bryant, a proud girl dad stated that, "(Gianna will) be standing next to me, and it'll be like, 'And you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy.' She's like, 'I got this. No boy for that, I got this.”
Bryant also talked about coaching his daughters' basketball team and how he wanted to show the girls what excellence looks like.
Bryant stated, "It's not that, some of them may want to play in Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), some of them may not, but we try to give them a foundation of the amount of work and preparation that it takes to be excellent."
Former NBA guard, Jason Terry, stated in the New York Times that, “it was just amazing to see Kobe and Gigi interact, not only as father and daughter but as coach and player. She had his mannerisms. She had the same competitive drive. A lot of times at the eighth-grade level, there’s a lot of, ‘Go over here, go over there, pass the ball, shoot the ball.’ Kobe was doing none of that. There wasn’t a lot of yelling. You could tell he had spent a lot of time with those girls. They already knew what he expected of them.” Terry shared this story to showcase the relationship between Bryant and Gigi.
A few days after the accident, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) did confirm that there were nine casualties from the plane accident.
The nine passengers who tragically died on the helicopter were Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and the helicopter's pilot, Ara Zobayan.
As of now, federal investigators are looking into the accident to figure out what exactly happened to the helicopter.
The death of Bryant has moved people around the country and even around the world. His death was an example of how big of an impact one person can have on others.
Bryant was the type of person to inspire others on and off the court. You did not have to be a sports fan to respect and understand the Mamba mentality.
Many fans of the late Laker legend from celebrities in the country to students and staff here at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) have spoken out about Bryant's passing.
Vanessa Bryant, wife of Bryant and mother of Gigi; spoke a few days later after the accident stating on Instagram, “There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved… I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
EKU men's basketball senior, Mason Cooper says, "Kobe had a big influence on me growing up. He was just starting to hit his peak around the time I was understanding and watching the game.”
Augusta Martin, a Bryant fan wrote on Twitter, “From here on out our 24th year of life is called our kobe year - our year to make an impact on other people’s lives, to be more aware of those around us, our year to break boundaries and set new limits for others to break, to make changes”.
Nets guard, Kyrie Irving said in a postgame interview with ESPN, “It’s heartbreaking for all of us, but I’m not the only one dealing with something.”
Daryl McCleskey Jr, EKU football senior said, "Kobe wasn't just an influencer for people on the hardwood floor, he also influenced people on the field. He influenced me by his work ethic, determination and love for the game."
Daniel Johnson, a Bryant fan wrote on Twitter, “Crumpling up a piece of paper and getting it into a ball form and saying ‘Kobe’ to aim to the trash can will never be the same”.
A.W Hamilton, EKU men's basketball coach said, "The basketball community lost a legend way too early. His impact on the game will last forever. Our kids will know about Kobe and the type of player he was."
LeBron James gave a heartfelt tribute at the Lakers first game since the Bryant’s passing ending his speech with, “In the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother.”
Kobe Bryant’s public memorial is set for Feb. 24 at the Staples Center.