Josie Howell, Sports Editor
Former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26 in Calabasas, California.
Along with Kobe Bryant and his daughter on board were John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Pilot Ara Zobayan. There were a total of nine fatalities, with no survivors.
Kobe Bryant and the other passengers were traveling to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball event where his daughter and her team mate Alyssa, who was also on board, were scheduled to play.
Despite the heavy fog at the time, Kobe Bryant’s helicopter was given special clearance to fly. While many are pointing at the heavy fog to blame for the tragedy, there is still an on-going investigation to look for other roles that may have played a part in the accident.
According to Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Zobayan was climbing to avoid a cloud layer, but when air traffic control asked him what he planned to do, there was no response.
The helicopter circled Glendale for 14 minutes after takeoff and then proceeded to climb into the clouds before taking a sharp turn and ultimately hitting the ground. The NTSB also emphasized that even though there was no black box present, having one is not a requirement.
Kobe Bryant’s death has hit hard for many of his die-hard fans. While he is known for having been the youngest player in NBA history after being drafted by the NBA straight out of high school in 1996, he also held many other titles by the end of his memorable basketball career in April of 2016.
These titles include fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, five-time NBA champion, twice named NBA finals MVP, 18-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA first team, nine-time NBA All-Defensive first team and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Along with Gianna, Kobe Bryant also had three other daughters with his wife Vanessa Bryant: 17-year-old Natalia, three-year-old Bianka and his new born seven-month-old Capri. Following his death, he will be inducted into the 2020 Hall of Fame without the requirement of a vote.