Kobe Bryant Killed in Helicopter Crash

February 4, 2020

A tragedy that has rocked the world of sports and deeply affected millions across the globe: the death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others, including the pilot of his popular helicopter that he used to avoid LA traffic. Bryant was a mentor and a role model for millions of individuals, and his skill, as well as his work ethic and likable personality, made him one of the legends of the generation. Number 8 and 24 on the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team from 1996-2016, he dedicated as much of his life to basketball as he could. In his life, Kobe Bryant had many achievements and successes. He was the fourth all-time scorer in the NBA and won five NBA championships. He was also an 18-time All-Star. Bryant won two Olympic gold medals, one at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and another at the 2012 London Olympics. He was caring and bold, both as a player and as a human. One of his largest achievements was his Oscar win in 2018 for his short film, ‘Dear Basketball’. The film, a six-minute animation with Bryant’s own narration, details when and how he fell in love with the sport, as well as how it made him feel while he played and how he would give it his all in his final year of playing. “I did everything for you,” Kobe stated in the film, referencing the sport he loved and adored. “Because that’s what you do when someone makes you feel as alive as you’ve made me feel.” 

After his basketball retirement, brought on by his physical toll from the sport, he dedicated his life to his family. He found a way to bring his dream into his personal life, starting Mamba Academy. Mamba Academy is a sports training facility in Newbury Park, California that caters to all different types of people and sports. ‘The Mamba Mentality’, as stated on their website, is constantly working to be the best version of an athlete as they can be. “You got to do what you love to do. I love inspiring kids or providing them with tools that are going to help them,” Bryant told USA Today. Bryant’s on-court nickname, The Black Mamba, was created by the man himself to differentiate his life on and off the basketball court. 

Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and his daughter Alyssa, assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser, Payton Chester and Sarah Chester were all aboard the helicopter when it went down, including the pilot. They were headed to Mamba Academy for one of Gianna’s basketball tournaments that Bryant would be coaching. It was reported that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, in the final radio recordings from the copter, was attempting to climb higher in the sky to avoid a cloud layer. The day was extremely foggy but they got permission to fly through the conditions. The radar revealed that the helicopter climbed to about 2,300 feet before making a left descent into the hillside of Calabasas, California. The scene was devastating and the passengers died upon impact. TMZ broke the news story as soon as possible and were criticized by law enforcement officials for releasing the information before the Bryant family could be notified about the tragedy. “It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one…perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva expressed. “That is just wholly inappropriate.” Bryant’s family has not commented, but a multitude of different sports players, political figures and celebrities have reached out with their condolences via social media. The recent Grammy Awards, which were held at the Staples Center, had multiple tributes throughout the show, including a spotlight on his two jerseys. Lebron James, who had recently surpassed Bryant for third place in all-time scoring, posted on Instagram, “I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.” 

The recent tragic events have shone a spotlight on living every day like it is the last. Putting everything into the largest inspirations in life is crucial because it is unknown when it could all end. In the words of Kobe Bryant, “You are responsible for how people remember you…so don’t take it lightly. The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” 

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