Today, I was planning on posting a Famous Sayings post, but after hearing of some sad news today, I didn’t have to heart to do much research — or much of anything, for that matter. I was kind of watching the Pro Bowl when a relative alerted me to some terrible news.
This morning, I heard that Kobe Bryant, a beloved figure in Los Angeles and the world of sports, had died in a helicopter crash. Bryant’s Sikorsky S-76 was circling for a bit in foggy conditions and it crashed in a mountainous region. The news was first reported by TMZ, but I and others waited for confirmation, which, sadly, came from other news sources.
The news about Bryant’s death was bad enough, but as the day went on, the situation was much worse than we originally thought. By mid-day, news came out that five (now the count is at nine) people had died on the helicopter and that there were no survivors. Not everyone was identified, but at one point, it was suspected the Rick Fox (a former teammate of Bryant’s on the Los Angeles Lakers) was also on the helicopter. That news was refuted, but one bit of news really saddened me.
This whole story was unbelievable, and I immediately thought about another crash in which a beloved figure died in a flash. This tragedy kind of reminded me of Princess Diana’s death, although, of course, the circumstances were vastly different. It was just suddenness of the news and relative youth of the passengers. (Diana was 36, Bryant was 41, and there were two teens involved in this crash.)
I was also reminded of Aaliyah’s death, which occurred in August 2001. She, too, died in a crash involving an aircraft, but she was riding in a plane that was overloaded. Even though I didn’t know Aaliyah personally, that was a celebrity death that hit me the hardest for some reason. I cried several times immediately following her death. She was would have turned 41 this year.
The Worst Part of All This
While most of Bryant’s family was safe (his wife, Vanessa, and three of their daughters, Natalia, Bianca, and Capri, were not on the helicopter), Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna (what a beautiful name), was onboard that helicopter. Among the other named passengers was girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser. John Altobelli (the head coach of the Orange Coast College baseball team), his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa (who played on the same team as Gianna Bryant), all perished in the crash, as well.
The initial news was hard to take, but the part about the young dying is what hit me the most. All these families have lost husbands, wives, daughters, sons, and siblings. Vanessa Bryant and her other daughters are not only mourning a husband and father, but a daughter and sister. Gianna was Bryant’s second daughter; their youngest, Capri, was just born in June 2019. And Bryant was proud Gianna, who wanted to carry on her father’s legacy in basketball:
The Outpouring of Grief
Later in the day, many Lakers fans and Kobe fans congregated near the scene of the crash and outside the Staples Center, the area where the Lakers play (it opened in 1999).
Michael Jordan, the winner of six NBA championships, had this to say about Kobe:
Words can’t describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a 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.
Greg Popovich, the hard-nosed coach of the San Antonio Spurs, had some kind words for Kobe:
Jay Williams spoke to ESPN an hour after the news came out:
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was visible upset:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was with the Lakers during their Showtime dynasty, had this to say:
And, of course, LeBron James was visibly shaken.
King James played against Kobe Bryant’s Lakers as a Cleveland Cavalier and as part of the Miami Heat. James joined the Lakers last season and he just passed Kobe on the all-time scoring list. Kobe’s last social media messages were congratulatory.
What We Need Right Now
To end this on a positive note, I would like to share a tweet I came across today, as well as some videos that might improve your mood.
This tweet features a clip of Kobe “taunting” Jalen Rose:
The 81 was in reference to Kobe’s 81-point game, the second-best scoring performance in NBA history.
This video is of the Oscar-winning short that was released in 2018:
This last video has nothing to do with Kobe, but it made me feel a little better when I watched it: