Remembering Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Anna Rose '22, Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 26 marked one year since the tragic deaths of Los Angeles Lakers Basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven more in a helicopter crash. Their deaths both shocked and saddened the world, as many mourned their passing and reflected on the impact Kobe had on the National Basketball Association (NBA) and beyond. Bryant had left Orange County, CA that morning and was headed to coach his 13-year-old daughter’s youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks. He was accompanied by nine others, including his daughter, Gianna, John and Keri Altobelli, their daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton, an assistant coach named Christina Mauser, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan. The helicopter went down after about 15 minutes of flight time in the Calabasas hills. There were no survivors from the  crash. 

Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend to say the least. His career spanned 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. He won a total of five NBA championships; and, for two of those championships, he won the most valuable player award. In 2008, he was nominated the NBA’s MVP. The 18-time NBA All-Star scored a total of 33,643 points across his career. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Kobe retired from the NBA in 2016; and the Lakers retired both of his jersey numbers, 8 and 24. Kobe married his wife, Vanessa, in 2001 and they had four daughters together: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri. Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, passed away alongside her father on January 26, 2020. 

Following the crash, the outreach to Kobe’s memory and his family was almost immediate. Former teammates, athletes, friends, and others expressed their love for Bryant and their utter shock for and his daughter’s sudden deaths. Major news sites reported on his death while the sports world honored him and his legacy. Basketball teams took 24-second shot clock violations in honor of his famous jersey number. Videos were shown at games that day and other small acts of remembrance took control of the basketball court in the coming days. Athletes across other sports took part in honoring Kobe’s legacy and his impact on the sports world as well. Before the kickoff of Super Bowl 54, each team lined up on their respective twenty-four yard lines and observed a moment of slice for those who lost their lives. 

About a month after the crash, a public memorial was celebrated in honor of Kobe and all others who lost their lives, with speeches by NBA legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, along with performances by Beyonce and Alicia Keys. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, spoke during this event. She thanked everyone for the outpouring of love her and her family had received in the month following the untimely deaths of her husband and daughter. She first spoke about her daughter and her short, but beautiful life. Vanessa told many anecdotes and gave descriptions of Gigi before moving on to speak about her husband. She reflected on their relationship and their pure love for each other and their four children. Vanessa expressed her love for both of them and how intense Kobe and Gigi’s bond was. As she closed her speech she said: “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other.” One year later, the world remembers those who died on the helicopter, and Kobe’s legacy continues to live on in the sports world and beyond. 

Anna Rose ‘22 Staff Writer