Love of basketball put Bryant, others on final fatal flight
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The six passengers traveling with Kobe Bryant and his daughter in the helicopter that crashed into a Southern California mountainside last month were joined by their love of basketball. Among them, two teammates of Bryant’s 13-old-daughter, a coach with a rising profile in girls’ basketball and three parents of basketball-crazed children. Their pilot, who was taking them to a basketball tournament, was a veteran flier whose friends and customers said was exactly the guy a passenger would want at the controls.
KOBE and GIANNA BRYANT:
Kobe Bryant liked to tell the story of how fans would approach to ask the father of four daughters when he was going to have a son who could carry on his basketball legacy. His precocious 13-year-old would respond, saying, “Oy, I got this.”
Gianna Bryant, known as Gigi to family and friends, was infused with the same burning desire for basketball greatness that had driven her father to 18 All-Star Game appearances and five NBA championships during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The pair could sometimes be seen courtside at Lakers games, where Bryant, his arm around her, would explain the intricacies of a sport he’d dedicated himself to since age 6, determined to become one of its greatest players.
Four years into retirement, Bryant, 41, had moved into a second career as a storyteller and advocate for women’s sports. He’d won an Academy Award in 2018 for the animated short film “Dear Basketball” and was taking his daughter, a budding basketball star herself, to a girls tournament sponsored by the Mamba Sports Academy he’d co-founded two years before.