Death of Kobe Bryant

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On the morning of January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter carrying one pilot and eight passengers, including former professional basketball player Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, crashed in Calabasas, California, around 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. All occupants of the helicopter were killed.


At 9:06 a.m. (PST) on January 26, 2020, Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, in a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, registration N72EX. They were heading to a basketball game at his Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. Kobe was the coach of Gianna's team. The helicopter passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled over Glendale during the flight. Prior to the crash, the helicopter was in a climbing left turn 2,400 feet above sea level, then descended at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute (45 miles per hour) and struck the ground. The helicopter was registered to the Fillmore-based Island Express Holding Corp., according to the California Secretary of State business database. The LAPD had grounded its police helicopters on Sunday morning due to the poor weather conditions.

The helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, at about 9:47 a.m. local time and caught fire. Weather conditions at the time were reported to be foggy. Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters responded to the scene and extinguished the fire by 10:30 am. All nine people on board were killed. Witnesses reported that the helicopter's engine was "sputtering" before the crash. Others reported seeing it flying into the ground at a "fairly significant rate of speed." It is unclear whether a distress call was made. The crash started a quarter-acre brush fire that was difficult to extinguish due to the presence of magnesium. The debris from the crash was scattered on steep terrain. Paramedics on board an air ambulance were hoisted down to the scene but could not locate any survivors.


All nine occupants of the helicopter, including the pilot, were killed in the crash. The dead included Kobe Bryant, Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, college baseball coach John Altobelli, Altobelli's wife Keri and daughter Alyssa and elementary school basketball coach Christina Mauser.

Reporting and investigation

At 11:24 am, just two hours after the crash, TMZ was the first news source to confirm Bryant's death. TMZ was later criticized at a local law enforcement press conference for reporting the story before the local law enforcement had the opportunity for the coroner's office to confirm the identity of occupants and officially inform families. Los Angeles County Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, stated, "It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one had perished and you learn [that] through TMZ."

At 2:30 pm, the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Los Angeles County Fire Department held a Facebook live-streamed joint press conference detailing initial aspects of the crash. The conference attracted anger from both media and viewers for being 'disorganized'. Los Angeles County fire chief Daryl Osby confirmed the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were on the scene investigating. A "Go Team" consisting of 18 people, including specialists and investigators from the NTSB, arrived in the evening to search for the flight recorder. The names of the victims will not be released until the bodies are identified and the next of kin notified. As a result of the crash, an investigation was launched into Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky S-76B.

At 8:00 pm, the Los Angeles County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner held another joint press conference that was not streamed live.



Around 200 people gathered at the foot of the hill close to the crash with several wearing Bryant's jersey and holding basketballs. People also formed an impromptu memorial at the Staples Center where the Los Angeles Lakers play, just hours before the arena was scheduled to host the Grammy Awards. Fans created a memorial for Bryant outside of the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School (Pennsylvania), which Bryant attended from 1992–1996. Jerseys, dedicated basketballs, flowers and candles were all laid down to memorialize the school's legendary graduate.

Bryant's memory was also honored with several tributes at that night's Grammy Awards. During the show, host Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men performed "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" in tribute to Bryant, and other performers, including Lil Nas X and DJ Khaled, incorporated tributes to Bryant in their performances.

Los Angeles International Airport and Madison Square Garden were among many landmarks across the country that were lit purple and gold in his memory.

In sports

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement:

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna ... For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary ... But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."

Gregg Downer, Bryant's high school basketball coach, was "completely shocked and devastated" by the news and was too distraught to speak to the media. Downer coached Bryant at Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia from 1992 to 1996 and won the state championship with Bryant in 1996.

Michael Jordan, to whom Bryant was often compared, said in a statement: "Words can't describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me... We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force."[30] Tiger Woods called the day of Bryant's death "one of the most shocking, tragic days."

Several NBA teams paid tribute to Bryant during their games that night with intentional violations in reference to his uniform numbers (Bryant wore #8 from 1996–2006 and #24 from 2006–2016). The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs started their game with intentional 24-second violations. Other teams did the same, or took 8-second backcourt violations. The Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns started the first two possessions of their game with intentional 24-second and 8-second violations, respectively. A moment of silence was also held during a game between the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that nobody will ever wear the number 24 for the Mavericks again in Bryant's honor.

Many players in the NFL learned of Bryant's death while they were in the locker room moments before the Pro Bowl. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson led a prayer in the locker room among the NFC players, and during the game many players made on-field tributes to Bryant.

Professional wrestling promotion WWE honored Bryant with a moment of silence during their 2020 Royal Rumble pay-per-view.

From politicians

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted "Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!"

Former U.S. President Barack Obama tweeted, "Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement saying: "Hillary and I are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and all those who died in today's helicopter crash. Kobe brought excitement and joy to basketball fans not just in Los Angeles, but all over the U.S. and around the world. He was also a leader off the court, including in his advocacy for young people, especially the vulnerable and homeless — a passion I saw firsthand when I joined him and Vanessa for the opening of a housing project they and their foundation supported. Kobe Bryant lived a very large life in a very short time. But above all, he loved his family. Our prayers are with Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and all those who lost loved ones today."

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    Name Born / Since / At Died Languages
    Alyssa Altobelli00.00.200726.01.2020en
    Payton Chester00.00.200726.01.2020en
    Gianna Bryant01.05.200626.01.2020en, lv, ru
    4Kobe  BryantKobe Bryant23.08.197826.01.2020de, ee, en, fr, lt, lv, pl, ru
    5John  AltobelliJohn Altobelli00.00.196326.01.2020en
    Keri Altobelli26.01.2020en
    Christina Mauser26.01.2020en
    Ara Zobayan26.01.2020en
    Sarah Chester26.01.2020en