Death of Kobe Bryant


Lilian Chong and Roselind Zeng

It’s hard to imagine that a legendary star who was admired for his talent in basketball and was renowned for his brilliant legacy died when his helicopter crashed on the morning of Jan. 26. in Calabasas, CA. In the prime of his life, Kobe Bryant, 41, lost his life alongside his daughter, Gianna, and seven others on board: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, and Christina Mauser. The news of the tragedy shattered fans across  America, and undoubtedly, the world.

The helicopter passengers were heading to Thousand Oaks, where Gianna was scheduled to play for the afternoon at Mamba Sports Academy, where Kobe directed and coached young athletes. 

It wasn’t Kobe’s first experience on a helicopter– he first began using it as his main mode of transportation in 2006. He found the 15-minute commutes a huge time-saver, allowing him more training and family time.

A few possible causes for the helicopter crash were mechanical malfunctions causing sparking and engine failure, and foggy, overcast weather.  The exact cause is still under investigation. 

“An instrument-rated commercial pilot and flight instructor who has been identified as Ara Zobayan was at the controls of the helicopter. Mr. Zobayan was the same pilot who had taken Mr. Bryant to his final Lakers game,” said Kurt Deetz, a former Island Express pilot who had often flown Bryant during his career.

While circling mid-flight for roughly 12 minutes waiting for clearance from air-traffic controllers, the helicopter unexpectedly descended for a left turn, reported the National Transportation Safety Board. The helicopter crashed in mountainous terrain after hovering and careening for a few minutes. “It was a pretty devastating accident scene,” described Jennifer Homendy, a board member who observed the damage. 

Despite the cause of the remarkable star’s death, Bryant will always be remembered for carrying a bright but complicated legacy. After accomplishing a tremendous 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers where the beginning of his fame marked him as one of the greatest players in history, Kobe ended his basketball career in April 2016 when he decided to pursue his dreams of helping the community and seeking a better change for the future. 

Beyond being a phenomenal athlete, Bryant was an idol who was an inspiring advocate for the next generation in basketball. Through Mamba Sports, and his countless charitable acts, Bryant hoped to create opportunities for youth of all backgrounds. His daughter, Gianna was an exceptionally talented basketball prodigy who not only wanted to take on her father’s legacy, but also shared a “similar demeanor and personality” as Kobe, both on and off the court. 

“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common,”  Shaquille O’Neal wrote on Twitter that following day of the tragedy. “We love our families. Whenever we got together I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his.” 

Meanwhile, Magic Johnson, Bryant’s childhood hero, mournfully wrote on Twitter, “My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It’s hard to accept.” 

Kobe Bryant’s death may have been a blow to millions worldwide, but his legacy will continue to inspire generations of basketball fans to come.


Photo courtesy of THEWRAP.COM