NBA legend Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter die in helicopter crash

Commonly+referred+to+as+%22The+Black+Mamba%2C%22+Kobe+Bryant+and+daughter+Gianna+Bryant+shared+a+deep+connection+to+basketball.++Gianna+was+a+member+of+Kobe%27s+%22Mamba+Sports+Academy%22+and+had+dreams+of+playing+basketball+for+the+University+of+Connecticut.+

Adrian Gonzalez

Commonly referred to as “The Black Mamba,” Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant shared a deep connection to basketball. Gianna was a member of Kobe’s “Mamba Sports Academy” and had dreams of playing basketball for the University of Connecticut.

On Jan. 26, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was reportedly also on board during the fatal accident along with seven other passengers, including Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and his daughter Alyssa.

The helicopter was flying them to Thousand Oaks for a game, as it often would. The shocking news was first reported by TMZ and stunned sports fans worldwide as Bryant is widely touted as one of basketball’s greatest all-time players. 

Bryant, 41, will be remembered for the countless records the future Hall of Famer accumulated throughout his storied NBA career as well as his intense mental strength, or “Mamba Mentality,” which was key to perfecting his craft. 

The Los Angeles Lakers legend, who entered the league right out of high school, accomplished almost everything imaginable on the hardwood. In his time on the court, he racked up five NBA championships, an MVP award, 18 All-Star appearances, 12 All-Defensive selections, two Olympic gold medals and two scoring titles. In 2006, Bryant scored 81 points in a single game – the most points scored in the modern era and the most since Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962. Bryant even won an Oscar in 2018 for his involvement in the short film, “Dear Basketball.”

Yet, for all his achievements during a stellar 20-year career, Bryant was more than just a legendary basketball player. He was a generational figure. A role model. A sporting and human icon.

“The Black Mamba” leaves a legacy off the court just as much as he does on it. Fellow Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson summed up Bryant’s impact on his peers in one of a series of tweets on Sunday, claiming Bryant “gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, & NBA & WNBA players. Words can’t express the impact that he had on the game of basketball.”

The former Lakers star, who retired in 2016, leaves behind his longtime wife Vanessa and their three other daughters. In the aftermath of the breaking reports, videos of Bryant and his daughter Gianna’s recent public outings have resurfaced and circulated. 

As recently as Dec. 21, the two were seen courtside at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center during a game, where they shared a loving father-daughter moment smiling with one another and breaking-down the game detail-by-detail. Sunday’s news is a stark reminder of the fragility of life and a desperately tragic shock to the sporting community.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, Bryant was in his hometown of Philadelphia watching the Lakers take on the 76ers. But more specifically, Bryant wanted to witness his companion and former competitor LeBron James surpass him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list to take the No. 3 spot. 

Just 14 hours before his death, Bryant congratulated James on Twitter, praising him for “continuing to move the game forward.”

Bryant has moved the game forward more than anyone else, and his loss will continue to send shockwaves through the sports world and beyond.