Just before 10 am, on Sunday January 26, Kobe Bryant was among 9 passengers that tragically died in a helicopter crash. Included in the 9 passengers was Gianni “Gigi” Bryant, Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter. Kobe Bryant was one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, also adding 5 NBA championship rings. Kobe Bryant was scheduled to be inducted into the hall of fame this summer along with other NBA legends including Tim Duncan and company.
Sunday morning for Bryant started out as your normal foggy Sunday, but quickly turned for the unfortunate worse. Bryant was accompanied by his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with 7 others. Flying to basketball practice, the helicopter was granted Special Visual Flight Rules clearance, which means that the helicopter could proceed with its route despite the fog. The helicopter later crashed in low fog hillsides in Calabasas. The pilot was fully trained and had his commercial pilot’s license since 2007, but witnesses described the fog as extremely difficult to see in, truly an unfortunate accident.
In 1996, Kobe Bryant was drafted into the NBA straight out of high school and would accomplish even more than his 5 championships. Bryant was selected 18 out of 20 seasons as an NBA all star and was known around the league as the Black Mamba, for his unbelievable drive to win. One of Bryant’s greatest accomplishments occurred in 2006 where he dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors. Bryant went off that night notching himself second all time, only behind Wilt Chamberlain at 100 points, in points scored in a single game. But Bryant’s legacy went beyond the NBA. In 2008 and 2012, the United States won the basketball gold medals in the Olympics with the help of Bryant and company. Bryant ended his career on a legendary performance, in his final game Kobe Bryant turned back the clocks and dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz and led a late 4th quarter comeback to cement his legacy for good. Bryant will be missed by the basketball community forever.
The night before Bryant’s fatal accident, Lebron James, who plays for Bryant’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, passed Bryant, 33,644 points scored, and moved into 3rd all time in scoring, at 33,655 points. Hours before Bryant’s flight, Kobe and Lebron spoke over the phone and Bryant congratulated James on passing him 3rdall-time in scoring. James was seen crying at LAX after returning to Los Angeles (url below). https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/lebron-james-kobe-bryant-death-helicopter-crash-video-lakers-team-lax-a9304691.html
All around the NBA Bryant’s legacy is being honored, for example, ESPN played Bryant’s legendary final game in honor of his impact on the game of basketball. In addition, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, who wears the number 11 on his jersey, began his game on Sunday in a Hawks jersey that the number 8 on it to honor one of Bryant’s two unforgettable jerseys. Multiple teams across the NBA took 24 second shot clock violations and 8 second backcourt violations in honor of his two jersey numbers. Fans across the NBA united in honor of an icon in sports, a leader, a father, a mentor, and the hardest worker to ever pick up a basketball. Kobe Bryant did not know what a day was, he was working everyday on his game, he worked so hard in practice and practice paid off big time for him. Bryant is considered as a ‘one of a kind’ player in the NBA and his legacy will never be forgotten.