NBA star, Kobe Bryant killed along with four others in helicopter crash
Popular Basketball Star, Kobe Bryant has reportedly died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star’s death was confirmed by TMZ.
TMZ Sports has obtained some of the last photos taken of Kobe Bryant with his daughter, Gianna, and it’s clear they both had basketball on the brain in one of their final moments together.
The pics were shot Saturday at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where Gigi’s Mamba team played two 8th grade girls games that day. You can see KB watching carefully from the sideline as Gianna was on the court.
At one point, Kobe was seen giving his kid some tips. It’s unclear if he’s the head coach of her current squad or not, but he was definitely in coaching mode from what we can tell. We know he’s coached other teams she was on in the past. Kobe said Gianna had aspirations to be in the WNBA, and by all accounts … she was well on her way to getting there.
One thing that’s pretty obvious from this snapshot moment is that they were both fierce competitors and loved the game they played.
The Mayor of Costa Mesa, Katrina Foley, just confirmed the identity of one of the other victims in the helicopter crash … girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, who’s married to Tijuana Dogs singer Matt Mauser. Matt also confirmed the news himself.
On Facebook, he wrote … “My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much.”
L.A. weather was extremely foggy Sunday morning, and law enforcement sources tell us even LAPD air support was grounded because of it. Flight tracker data shows Kobe’s chopper appeared to first encounter weather issues as it was above the L.A. Zoo. It circled that area at least 6 times at a very low altitude — around 875 feet — perhaps waiting for the fog to clear.We know the pilot contacted the control tower at Burbank Airport around 9:30 AM PT, and the tower was aware the pilot had been circling for about 15 minutes. The pilot eventually headed north along the 118 freeway before turning to the west, and started following above the 101 freeway around Woodland Hills, CA.At around 9:40 AM they encounter more weather — as in seriously heavy fog — and the chopper turned south. This was critical, because they turned toward a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly and rapidly climbed from about 1200 feet up to 2000 feet.However, moments later — around 9:45 AM — they flew into a mountain at 1700 feet. Flight tracker data shows they were flying at about 161 knots.Michael Jordan has spoken on Kobe’s death, saying … “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m 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 adds, “He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply — and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.”
The players, coaches and families at the Mamba Academy were obviously emotional when they heard the news about Kobe’s death … but came together for a moment of silence and prayer.
Some of the Academy leaders addressed everyone at the facility — encouraging them to support each other, grieve together and honor Kobe by living good, quality lives.
Kids, parents and fans left a shrine to Kobe outside the Academy’s doors.