The Death of Kobe Bryant – Savannah Collis

On Sunday 26th January, Kobe Bryant, the 41 year old retired basketball player, was one of the 9 passengers who died in a tragic helicopter crash. Bryant was taking a helicopter to travel to a basketball game with his 13 year old daughter Gianna Bryant (“Gigi”) when his helicopter went down in Calabasas, California.

Image: Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant

Respects have been payed to the ex-NBA star all over the world; memorials were made in LA, a minute of silence was observed by Real Madrid before their football training, and flowers were laid at the “House of Kobe” gym. Many celebrities have posted on social media extending love and condolences to the families of the victims and tributes were paid at the Grammy awards particularly from Alicia Keys and Lizzo.

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Alicia Keys saying a tribute to Kobe at the Grammy awards.

Kobe Bryant played 20 seasons for the LA Lakers; he began his career for the Lakers in 1996, retiring in 2016, with a high scoring 60 point last game – which is quite a feat in basketball. He played at number 8 and 24, predominantly playing shooting guard. He played with the well known Shaquille O’Neal, among other well known players. A particular highlight of his career was his 2006 high score of 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, a rather impressive record. Kobe was the official ambassador of ASAS (After-School All-Stars) which was a non-profit organisation to provide after-school programmes to children in multiple US cities. He also donated money to a non-profit organisation that helps veterans make the transition to everyday life after their military career to get a civilian career.

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Fans of Kobe Bryant mourning his death

Other very talented people were on board the aircraft along with Kobe and Gianna. John Altobelli, a 56 year old successful college basketball coach, who had led his teams to over 700 victories in 27 seasons (also coaching future major league baseball players) and his wife Keri Altobelli, were also on board. She went to “every home game” and “most away games” to support her husband and his team. Their daughter, 13 year old Alyssa Altobelli, was another passenger. A basketball teammate of Kobe’s daughter Gianna, Alyssa had a brother and sister who were not on board; they have now been left without parents and have lost their sister. Payton Chester, another 13 year old fellow teammate of Gianna Bryant and Alyssa Alotbelli, was on the helicopter with her mother Sarah Chester, a 45 year old supportive mother of her children. Christina Mauser, a 38 year old assistant coach for the girls basketball team, was also among those who died. The pilot Ara Zobayan taught many budding pilots how to fly and was “very much loved in the aviation community”.

By S.Collis

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