Remembering Kobe Bryant’s life and story

Ashleigh Weiszbrod and Jack Moreland

First reported by TMZ, Kobe Bryant has been confirmed dead at the age of 41 in an S-76 helicopter crash. Bryant was known for his 20-year long professional basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers, from 1996-2016. He was the 13th pick during the first round of the 1996 NBA draft. Originally drafted by the Hornets, he was traded to the Lakers on draft night. He won five NBA titles during his career with the Lakers, was an 18-time All-Star and also won two Olympic gold medals during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Bryant also won an Oscar in 2018 along with director Glen Keane for their short film “Dear Basketball.” Bryant retired from the sport of basketball in 2016.
Kobe Bryant was born on Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Penn. Bryant joined the Lakers right out of high school in 1996 at the age of 18. In 2001 Bryant married Vanessa Aline Bryant after being together since 1999 and together they had four children, their youngest having been born in June 2019 and their oldest having turned 17 a week before the crash.
The helicopter has been said to have included the tail number N72EX. This tail number is known to be on Bryant’s personal helicopter being placed above his signature “Black Mamba” logo. According to, this exact helicopter took off at 9:06 am from John Wayne Airport heading towards El Monte, Calif. This is the same helicopter that Bryant purchased during his professional basketball career and has continued to use since.
Bryant was killed shortly after 10 a.m. outside of Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Bryant was confirmed as one of five people reported dead by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department saying that there are no survivors of the crash. It had also been reported that nobody on the ground was harmed. The cause of the crash has yet to be released and the crash is currently being investigated.
The last public comment from Bryant was 17 hours before the crash, tweeting to LeBron James congratulating him on passing him for third place on the NBA’s all-time-scoring list.
It was confirmed at 4:05 p.m. Sunday that Bryant’s daughter, Gianna Maria Onore “GiGi” Bryant, age 13, was with him and also perished during the crash. Bryant’s representatives have confirmed that they were flying to Mamba Academy for basketball practice when the crash occurred. It was also released that Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not among those aboard the helicopter.
At 5:44 p.m. it was confirmed that there were, in fact nine people recorded on the manifest and nine people were aboard the helicopter. It had also been confirmed that all nine of the passengers perished during the crash. Like before Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and the pilot were among those confirmed to have died during the crash. It is believed that another player and one of the player’s parents were on board and perished during the crash as well but it was still unknown who the other passengers were aboard the helicopter.
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, the identities of the crash victims were confirmed. The victims being Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli, wife Keri Altobelli, daughter Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, daughter Payton Chester, and pilot Ala Zobayan.
The helicopter was flying to Camarillo Airport where the passengers were going to be at Mamba Sports Acadamy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Bryant was the head coach of Gianna’s basketball team at the facility. Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were teammates of Gianna.
There was no black box in the helicopter as the use of one is not mandatory in helicopter aircraft. There is a recommended safety device that is recommended for all helicopters but the S-76 did not possess this device and it is unknown if whether or not the device would have changed the result of the crash. The cause of the crash is still unknown at this time but the pilot’s flight history, helicopter condition, and flight weather are being investigated. The last transmission between air traffic control and the pilot was the pilot stating that he was going to fly higher to avoid a layer of clouds.
The tragic and untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, GiGi and the other passengers on the helicopter left the basketball world, fans and athletes alike in complete shock. The response has been tremendous, between huge gatherings at Los Angeles’ Staple’s Center; countless tributes from NBA teams, players and fans. Petitions have even been put in place to make Kobe Bryant the new logo of the league.
Throughout his career Bryant served as an inspiration, role model and mentor to many basketball players worldwide. Countless athletes honored him on social media and several others made tributes on the court by dedicating games to him. Others even changed their jersey number to informally retire Kobe’s number 8 and 24.
Some Okemos students shared their reactions to hearing the terrible news.
“My heart dropped,” Raj Singh (9) said.
“… [I] could not breathe,” Kemal Demirer (11) said.
While Kobe impacted the lives of so many NBA players, he was also incredibly influential in the lives of his fans.
“He was an inspiration on how I should live my everyday life,” Max Wakefield (10) said.
“I wanted to be to my career what Kobe was to his,” Demirer said.
The basketball world may never be the same in the wake of Kobe’s passing. He left a lasting legacy but it is sad to know that it has come to an end. Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his three daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. Kobe and Gianna Bryant; John Altobelli, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser; Ara Zobayan and Sarah and Payton Chester will be missed tremendously.