January 26th will never be the same for some; as the world lost legendary NBA Champion Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in Calabasas California. He was just 41 years old, and sadly the tragedy doesn’t stop there; Kobe was one of nine passengers on the helicopter and so was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant. Since the crash the other seven passengers have been identified as John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and the pilot Are Zobayan. They were reportedly on their way to a basketball practice session at Mamba Sports Academy, a training facility in nearby Newbury Park named for Bryant’s Black Mamba nickname.
It was later confirmed that there were nine passengers in total but sadly no survivors. An investigation is now underway to find out the exact cause of the helicopter crash. According to NBC News, Authorities reported dense fog around the time that the chopper, a Sikorsky S-76B, departed John Wayne Airport in Orange County just after 9 a.m. Forty minutes later, a 911 call was received that the chopper, which had traveled northwest, slammed into a field near Malibu, Los Angeles County fire officials said.
Bryant was drafted in the NBA directly out of high school in 1996 and spent his entire professional basketball career with the Lakers. He won five NBA championships with the team and received the league MVP award in 2008 and Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of its 2020 class bypassing the normal election process.
Bryant was part of a 2020 class of nominees that included many of his greatest rivals, such as Tim Duncan, Tim Hardaway, and Kevin Garnett, who preceded the Lakers legend in jumping straight from high school to the NBA.
Fans also began gathering in front of the Staples Center ahead of Sunday night’s Grammy Awards to hold a memorial in honor of the late NBA legend.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, and their three other daughters: Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and Capri, 7 months.
Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the family members and friends of all nine victims involved in this heartbreaking crash. Stay tuned for more developing coverage.