On Sunday, January 26, the world was thrown into a state of devastation with the death of the greatest basketball player of all time, Kobe Bryant.
The untimely loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant in January 2020 took the world by surprise, leaving sports lovers in a state of mourning. The revelation of his sad passing, alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Giana “Gigi” Bryant, and seven others, was a moment that would not be forgotten for centuries to come.
Was it the perilous helicopter crash and its repercussions? The presence of several families, including a trio of mother, father, and daughter? Or the fact that it meant the end of the greatest NBA champion to grace the courts? Whatever the case, January 26 was a day many would forever member as the “dark Sunday.”
THE EVENTS SURROUNDING KOBE BRYANT’S DEATH
Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, 13, alongside seven others, were in a helicopter on Sunday, January 26. They were en route to the Mamba Sports Academy, Thousand Oaks, from Orange County, for a youth basketball tournament.
The private helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, took off from John Wayne Airport at about 9:06 a.m. Records showed that the weather was noticeably foggy and considered unsafe for flying. Notwithstanding, the basketball legend and his companions made the trip, putting some measures in place.
However, none of the plane’s occupants made it to Thousand Oaks for the Mamba Cup. At about 9:44 a.m., minutes after the flight departed, it crashed into a slope near Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas.
WERE THERE SURVIVORS?
The 1991 Skyroski S-76 exploded almost immediately it hit the slope, leaving no survivors. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that Kobe and Gigi were among the fatal victims.
Other people on board the flight included the Orange County College basketball coach, John Altobelli and his wife, Keri Altobelli. Their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli was also on board.
An assistant coach on the Girls’ basketball team at the Mamba Sports Academy, Christina Mauser, also died in the accident. The pilot, Ara Zobayan and the mother-daughter pair, Sarah and Peyton Chester, did not survive the crash.
THE IMPACT OF KOBE BRYANT’S DEATH ON THE WORLD
News of Kobe Bryant’s death hit the world like a plague. His daughter’s passing along with him only made the news more devastating.
Fans, celebrities, and notable figures took to various platforms to express their shock over his death while sharing heartfelt tributes. Attendees at the Grammy Awards that night also paid their respects to the legend at the event hosted at the Los Angeles Staples Center, the Lakers stadium.
Singer Alicia Keys, who hosted the event referred to the venue as “the home that Kobe Bryant Built,” referencing Bryant’s 20-year run with the Lakers’ and his dedication to the team.
The National Basketball Association also released a statement to pay tribute to Bryant, saying they were “devastated by his tragic passing.”
Bryant’s close friend, Shaquille O’Neal, who played alongside him as a Lakers star, expressed his sadness in a Tweet saying:
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece, Gigi, and my brother, @Kobe Bryant. I love you, and you will be missed.”
More tributes from several celebrities and Hollywood icons flooded social media platforms. All expressed their sadness over the loss and shared consoling words to Bryant’s family.
POLITICAL FIGURES WERE NOT LEFT OUT
Notably, Donald Trump, the United State’s president, joined the emotional outpouring on social media. He called Bryant one of the greatest basketball players. Trump went on to stress the icon’s love for family, and how Gigi’s involvement made the loss “even more devastating.”
Former U.S. president, Barack Obama, Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu as well as Notable figures like Kareem Abdul, Tom Brady, Trevor Noah, Abdul Jabbar, and several others took to social media platforms to express their sadness over the loss of a legend.
FANS OF KOBE BRYANT HONORED HIM
While many fans stayed up all night mourning Bryant’s loss, others made the tumultuous trip down to the helicopter wreck in Calabasas that night and the days that followed to pay their last respects.
Heartfelt tributes from fans to the lost legend flooded the internet, with many reflecting on how much Bryant inspired them.
Shortly after his death, many fans graced the Staples Center to drop symbolic artifacts in honor of Bryant. Some of the items included basketballs, Lakers jerseys, flags, signed sports shoes, caps, flowers, cards, written notes, and many more. They also conducted a memorial in his honor outside the Staples Center before the public memorial held on February 24.
VENESSA BRYANT’S REACTION TO HER HUSBAND’S DEATH
Bryant left behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three surviving daughters, Bianca, Natalia, and Capri. Weeks after his death, Bryant’s wife shared an Instagram message as a tribute to her husband and daughter. The emotional piece also served as a note of thanks to the public for their show of love and support.
Via the post, she thanked fans and sympathizers for their prayers. She also sympathized with the other families who experienced losses in the tragic helicopter crash.
Kobe’s family hosted a private funeral ceremony for the lost legend on February 7. They buried him alongside Gigi at the Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Beach, California. He was 41.