On Sunday, Jan. 26 the world learned that Los Angeles Lakers former shooting guard Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash. Bryant, as well as his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died on their way to a youth basketball tournament in Calabasas, CA.
According to the L.A. Times the other seven victims named were: John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Sarah and Payton Chester. Alyssa and Payton were teammates of Gianna’s and were onboard the helicopter to compete with her in the basketball tournament being hosted by the Mamba Sports Academy. John and Keri who perished with their daughter leave behind a son and a daughter. Mauser was an assistant coach at the Mamba Sports Academy, she is survived by her three children. Zobayan was Bryant’s private pilot and was flying the helicopter that day.
Since his passing there has been an outpouring of love for Bryant’s wife of 19-years, Vanessa. Three days after the accident, Vanessa broke her silence on an Instagram post.
“Thank you for all the prayers,” Vanessa said, “We definitely need them.” She continued by saying that she and her daughters are devastated by the loss. She also took a moment to say that she and the girls share in the grief of all of the loved ones who lost someone in the crash.
The Mamba Sports Academy founded in 2018 by Bryant and Chad Faulkner, CEO of Sports Academy, set up a fund to assist and support all of the families affected by the tragedy. To donate, please visit MambaOnThree.org.
“Kobe Bryant was so much more than a partner in Mamba Sports Academy,” a Mamba Sports Academy statement following the crash reads. “He was a caring father, husband, coach and champion of youth sports. We mourn not only one of the greatest athletes of all time, but an active and engaged member of our community, and a visionary whose impact was only beginning to be felt by society. He will be remembered most for the care he placed and pleasure he took in educating the next generation, none more so than Gianna, Alyssa, Payton and their Mamba teammates.”
Bryant was an inspiration to many young basketball players. Starting when he joined the NBA fresh out of high school. Bryant bet on himself against all of the odds that said he wouldn’t succeed. Going on to be the first shooting guard to play 20 seasons, in 2010 Bryant became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers history, and in 2013 at 34 years-old Bryant was the youngest player to reach 30,000 career points.
In response to the news of Bryant’s death Wittenberg’s men’s basketball Twitter page, @WittenbergHoops, tweeted “We’re all heartbroken for the families involved in the helicopter crash in L.A.”
“Kobe Bryant was an idol to many of our guys and became a strong role model as a father in retirement. We watched some video of him today and started practice with some Kobe moves,” the Twitter page read. There was a video attached to the tweet that showed the team practicing a turn-around jump shot, also known as a fadeaway, Bryant’s signature move.