Legends Live Forever: Kobe Bryant


Trinity Williams, Staff Writer

Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe Bryant


Presbyterian College mourns the death of legendary basketball player Kobe Bean Bryant. Bryant, also known as “The Black Mamba”, inspired many athletes as being one of the most influential National Basketball Association (NBA) players of all time. 

On Jan. 26, 2020, Bryant, age 41, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.  Daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant, age 13, and seven others, was also amongst the helicopter crash. 

Sources told ESPN that the passengers were on their way to a youth basketball game: “The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PT. It was going to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for Gianna’s team’s game.” 

Also reported by ESPN, “The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m.” The cause of the crash is unknown, but the company that owned the helicopter of the Jan. 26, 2020 Calabasas, CA crash was not legally certified to fly in poorly visible weather, as discovered by The New York Times

Furthermore, Business Insider described the seven other victims of the helicopter crash:

  • The pilot of the Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter, Ara Zobayan at age 50
  • The basketball teammate of Gianna, Alyssa Altobelli at age 14
  • Alyssa’s mother, Keri Altobelli at age 46
  • Alyssa’s father, also a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, John Altobelli at age 56
  • Mamba basketball coach, Christina Mauser at age 38
  • Middle-school student, Payton Chester at age 13
  • Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester at age 45

The day before the crash, Bryant’s last tweet on Twitter consisted of acknowledging Lebron James, an NBA basketball player of the Los Angeles Lakers, for his accomplishments in surpassing Bryant’s former third spot of the All-Time NBA Scorers: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644.” 

The 18-time NBA All-Star, Kobe Bryant, was selected as the 13 overall NBA draft pick of the 1996 draft for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18. As a Laker, he won five NBA Final Championship titles, and two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, before reaching retirement in 2016. Also, Bryant is still the youngest NBA All-Star in the league’s history, as his four MVP All-Star titles tie for the most in NBA’s history. 

The Lakers retired two of Bryant’s jerseys: #8 and #24. As stated in the Bleacher Report, after retirement, Bryant co-founded The Mamba Sports Academy in 2018, which was designed to train young athletes. At The Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant coached daughter Gianna Bryant in basketball. Gianna, a.k.a. “Mambacita”, shared her father’s passion and drive for the game of basketball. 

Bryant was married to Vanessa Bryant since 2001, in which they had four daughters together: Natalia Bryant, Bianka Bryant, Capri Bryant and Gianna Bryant. On Jan. 29, 2020, widow Vanessa Bryant has posted her first public statement since the incident via Instagram: “We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved.” 

In the post, Vanessa closed by stating, “To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by their tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit https://mambasportsfoundation.org/.”