Love of basketball put Bryant, others on final fatal flight

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              Flowers and photos honor members of the Altobelli family outside Angel Stadium, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. Coach John Altobelli, 56, far right, his wife, Keri, 43, second from left, and his daughter Alyssa, 13, left, died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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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.