A simplified reading of the player history for the National Basketball Association (NBA) would have it that after the age of Michael Jordan and his generation, it was the age of Kobe Bryant and his peers. As a second-generation NBA player, Kobe would go on to be a career-long legend for the Los Angeles Lakers, to which he gave five championships, and with which he became an 18-time All-Star and 2008 MVP. When “Black Mamba” retired after the 2015-16 season, he was sorely missed by the league and fans. Now he will be sorely missed even more, as unfortunately Kobe Bryant is now gone, forever.
The New York Time reports that retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant met an unfortunate end this Sunday, January 26, when a private helicopter he was a passenger on crashed in California. He was only 41 years old. According to an official report by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Bryant was one of several passengers aboard a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter owned by the former LA Laker, and registered to the Island Express Holding Corp. The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 AM (PST) and crashed 41 minutes later in Calabasas.
Eyewitness accounts in the Calabasas, California area claim to have heard the sound of a helicopter before a crash. The S-76 was known to have been flying under foggy weather conditions, headed for Thousand Oaks and the Mamba Sports Academy where Kobe was to coach a travel basketball game. The heartbreaking thing was that the game would see his daughter Gianna, age 13, play while her father coached. And Gianna was with Bryant in the helicopter when it crashed, dying with him. The helicopter was said to be carrying none including the pilot, and none of them survived the accident.
Initial details on the S-76 crash that killed Kobe Bryant have been spotty at first, due to the crash site being in a hard-to-access wilderness. As stated by Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, firefighters had difficulty hiking to the location. Other passengers with confirmed identities among the fatalities include basketball coach John Altobelli of Orange Coast County College from Costa Mesa, Calif. along with his wife and daughter.
Tributes to the fallen NBA legend were immediately given, from expected places like the Mamba Sports Academy, and even in the 62nd Grammy Awards that were also held Sunday night at Staples Center, aka the LA Lakers home arena. Host Alicia Keys sang “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men while spotlights were shown on Bryant’s retired jerseys (Nos. 8 and 24) in the rafters.
Image from E! News Online