NBA legend KOBE BRYANT and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a tragic helicopter crash yesterday morning. Kobe was 41.
The FAA and the NTSB are still investigating the cause of the crash, but here’s everything we know so far:
Kobe and Gianna were traveling in Kobe’s private helicopter from their home in Orange County to Thousand Oaks, which is just north of L.A. They were headed to Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy, where Gianna had a basketball game.
They were traveling with a guy named John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa. Alyssa was on Gianna’s team.
Girls basketball coach Christina Mauser was also killed in the crash, along with the pilot and two other passengers who haven’t been identified.
There’s no official word on what went wrong, but TMZ says the weather was “extremely foggy,” and that WAS a factor. In fact, law enforcement sources say the LAPD’s air support was even grounded because of the fog.
The crash happened at 9:45 A.M. TMZ has looked at flight tracker data, and it shows Kobe’s chopper first encountered weather issues over L.A., and it circled one area at least six times at a very low altitude . . . possibly waiting for the fog to clear.
The pilot contacted air traffic control for help, but they were flying too low for them to track the flight on radar.
After encountering more heavy fog, the chopper turned toward a mountainous area. The pilot suddenly and rapidly climbed from about 1,200 feet up to 2,000 feet . . . then flew into a mountain at 1,700 feet.
Kobe shouldn’t need an introduction. He spent his entire 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers, before retiring in 2016. He won FIVE NBA championships and was a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and an 18-time All-Star.
Kobe entered the NBA right out of high school. At 18 years and 72 days old, he was the youngest person to ever play in the league.
The Lakers have retired BOTH of his jerseys, Numbers 8 and 24. He was a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and two years ago, he won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. It’s called “Dear Basketball”, and Kobe wrote it.
He scored 81 points in one game in 2006 . . . that’s the second-most all-time, and the most in the modern era. He also scored 60 points in his final game.
When he retired, he was third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list . . . and coincidentally, it was just Saturday night . . . about 14 hours before the crash . . . that LEBRON JAMES passed Kobe, dropping him to fourth all-time.
That inspired Kobe’s final Tweet: “Continuing to move the game forward, King James. Much respect my brother.”
(He also posted on Instagram. Here’s video of LeBron surpassing Kobe’s mark.)
(TMZ, CBS Sports, CBS Sports, NY Post, MassLive, Twitter)