Bryant Was on His Way to Coach Daughter's Team

Crowds flock to California crash site
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2020 5:29 AM CST
Updated Jan 27, 2020 6:33 AM CST
Bryant Was on His Way to Coach Daughter's Team
People gather at a memorial near Staples Center after the death of Laker legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

The world has lost Kobe Bryant's heir apparent as well as the NBA legend himself. Gianna Bryant, 13, was among nine people killed in Sunday morning's helicopter crash in California. Gianna, a keen basketball player who hoped to someday play in the WNBA, was the second of Bryant's four daughters. The father and daughter were on their way to Thousand Oaks, where Bryant was going to coach Gianna's team, the Lady Mavericks, CNN reports. In a 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Bryant said sometimes when he was with Gianna, fans would tell him he had to have a son "to carry on your tradition, the legacy." "She's like, 'Oy, I got this," Bryant told Kimmel. "I'm like that's right," Bryant said. "Yes, you do, you got this." More:

  • Foggy conditions. The cause of the crash in rugged terrain outside Los Angeles is still unclear, but authorities say conditions were foggy enough for police helicopters to be grounded, the AP reports. The helicopter was descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute when it crashed into a hillside, according to flight data. Analysts believe bad weather is a far more likely cause than engine failure or other mechanical issues with the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, which took off from Irvine around 30 minutes before the crash.

  • Crowds flock to crash site. Authorities in Calabasas had to close roads after crowds converged on the area near the crash site, the Los Angeles Times reports. The crash site is "off limits to everybody," said LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who warned that the congestion was making it hard for investigators to do their jobs.
  • Fans gather at Staples Center. Bryant spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers, and thousands of fans rushed to the Staples Center to pay tribute after hearing news of his death. "He was like a family member in our household," Jerson Castillo tells the Guardian. He says he stopped in the middle of painting his house and rushed to the center when he heard the news.
  • Sadness at the Grammys. Outside the Staples Center, mourners mingled with Grammy Awards attendees. Inside, there were tributes to Bryant, Fox reports. "Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you we are all feeling crazy sadness right now," said host Alicia Keys.
  • Italians will mourn for a week. Bryant will be mourned for a week in the country where he grew up, reports the AP. He lived in the country from age 6 until 13, and Italy's basketball federation says a minute of silence will occur before every game this week in honor of "an absolute champion who always had Italy in his heart."
  • Tribute from NBA commissioner. Adam Silver was among the many figures in the NBA who offered heartfelt tributes to the 41-year-old, the New York Times reports. "For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning," Silver said. Bryant will "be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability."
  • Other victims. Bryant wasn't the only sporting figure to die in the crash. Three other victims have been identified as John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa, who was on the same team as Gianna Bryant, People reports.
(NBA teams found a fitting way to honor the No. 24 Sunday night.)

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