11:15 PM - January 27, 2020
11:15 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, a Philadelphia native and Lower Merion High prodigy with a NBA career spanning decades, died Sunday when his private helicopter crashed and burst into flames in Calabasas, Calif. Bryant’s second-oldest daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven others on board also died in the crash.

Fans meet at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles to mourn the loss of Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and daughter Gianna, 13, on Sunday.
Michael Ares
Fans meet at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles to mourn the loss of Los Angeles Lakers basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and daughter Gianna, 13, on Sunday.

The sudden passing of the 41-year-old basketball legend sent shockwaves through the sports world and beyond, as fans, athletes, and world leaders mourned his death.

In the Philadelphia region, mourners gathered at Bryant’s alma mater to pay their respects, while local stadiums and the Ben Franklin Bridge displayed Lakers’ purple lights to mark the loss of a native son.

Read more on Kobe Bryant’s life, death, and legacy in Philly and beyond:

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
10:47 PM - January 27, 2020
10:47 PM - January 27, 2020

LeBron James reflects on his friend’s death, lamenting that he ‘just heard’ Kobe Bryant’s voice ‘before I left Philly to head back to LA’

On Monday night, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James broke his silence on Kobe Bryant’s death by posting an emotional tribute on Instagram:

— Tommy Rowan

Share
8:20 PM - January 27, 2020
8:20 PM - January 27, 2020

Bryant’s high school basketball coach is heartbroken: ‘Kobe set the standard. He was our superman.’

Gregg Downer, Kobe Bryant’s basketball coach at Lower Merion High School, mourned the loss of his team’s most famous alum, offering his first statement since the basketball player’s death.

“It may seem odd for a grown man to admit it, but yesterday I lost my hero,” Downer said in an email statement from the school. “Never have I witnessed such passion, work ethic, and intensity — such a unique and purposeful drive for greatness. No excuses. No shortcuts. No days off. Kobe set the standard. He was our superman.”

Downer coached Bryant for four years, ultimately helping him commit to enter the NBA straight out of high school. He said that the bond they shared in raising their daughters was the highlight of their relationship.

Kobe Bryant and Brynn Downer, daughter of Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant at basketball for four years at Lake Merion High School.
Courtesy of Gregg Downer
Kobe Bryant and Brynn Downer, daughter of Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant at basketball for four years at Lake Merion High School.

“It is not often in life you see pure greatness,” he said. “I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to it for four years. He pushed me as a coach to be better and I pushed him right back. It was a beautiful, winning combination for which I will forever be grateful.”

People continued to gather outside Lower Merion High School Monday night, adding to the growing pile of bouquets placed at a memorial outside the building. Inside the high school, school board president Melissa Gilbert opened the board’s meeting with remarks and a moment of silence for Bryant — 33 seconds long, in honor of the No. 33 he wore as a Lower Merion athlete.

“As his fame grew, Lower Merion became known through the world as his Alma mater,” Gilbert said. She said students and staff “join Mr. Bryant’s friends and fans all over the world in extending our deepest condolences.”

— Ellie Rushing and Maddie Hanna

Share
7:15 PM - January 27, 2020
7:15 PM - January 27, 2020

NTSB: ‘It was a pretty devastating accident scene’

At a press conference Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office made clear that the investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant will not be ending any time soon.

With few definitive answers as to why or how the crash happened, investigators told reporters that they will remain at the scene of the crash in Calabasas, Calif. for five days, and continue to investigate beyond that, probing everything from the pilot to weather to the condition of the aircraft.

Locator map of Calasbas, Calif., site of helicopter crash on Sunday that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others.

“We do this all the time … I’m very confident we’ll determine the cause of the accident," National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy told reporters.

Investigators asked anyone with photos of the weather during the crash to send them to witness@ntsb.gov.

Officials are continuing to remove bodies from the rugged and steep hill in an ongoing effort that began on Sunday night.

“It was a pretty devastating accident scene," Homendy said.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
7:00 PM - January 27, 2020
7:00 PM - January 27, 2020

UConn’s women’s basketball team honored GiGi Bryant, who dreamed of playing for the Huskies

Gianna “GiGi” Bryant dreamed of playing on the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team and eventually in the WNBA. On Monday, the team honored the 13-year-old, who died with her father in the helicopter crash, with a Huskies jersey.

The No. 2 jersey, which is the number she sported as an athlete for Mamba Sports Academy, rested on a court-side seat with flowers.

At only 12-years-old, UCLA’s women’s basketball coach attempted to recruit her to consider their team when it came time for college, according to The Athletic, but Kobe told the coach GiGi was set on UConn. The pair attended the team’s senior day last March. When their helicopter crashed on Sunday, they were on their way to one of GiGi’s basketball tournaments.

— Ellie Rushing

Share
6:49 PM - January 27, 2020
6:49 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion teammates and coaches knew it was all special

“You could tell right away, this kid was going to go pro,’’ said Matt Snider, one of Kobe Bryant’s teammates on the Lower Merion basketball team. “Like after two practices. It was weird.

Kobe Bryant on the day he announced he is headed to the NBA, at Lower Merion High School, in April 1996.
File Photograph
Kobe Bryant on the day he announced he is headed to the NBA, at Lower Merion High School, in April 1996.

Bryant’s former high school teammates spoke with sports reporter Mike Jensen on Monday, describing what it was like playing alongside the legendary athlete who was drafted into the NBA from high school.

“Never took a play off, never took a drill off,’’ said Jeremy Treatman, a reporter who covered Bryant’s high school success. “He won every drill for four years, won every race.”

— Ellie Rushing

Share
6:14 PM - January 27, 2020
6:14 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe and LeBron James: Lakers’ last memories of Bryant’s voice

After LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant on the NBA scoring charts Saturday night, the two talked on the phone while several Lakers players listened in on the call that would become their last memory of Bryant’s voice, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.

Bryant’s final tweet was a shout-out to James on Saturday.

James spoke about Bryant’s impact Saturday after passing him on the scoring list, recalling listening to Bryant when the Mamba came to speak at his childhood basketball camp.

“I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” James said. “There’s no substitution for work ... He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.”

James was in tears Sunday afternoon as he exited the Lakers’ plane following the news of Bryant’s death.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
6:02 PM - January 27, 2020
6:02 PM - January 27, 2020

Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park go purple for Kobe

The Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park lit up with a purple Monday night in honor of Lakers’ colors and the passing of Kobe Bryant.

The Ben Franklin Bridge also illuminated a purple glow to honor the death of the Philadelphia-born basketball legend.

— Ellie Rushing

Share
5:36 PM - January 27, 2020
5:36 PM - January 27, 2020

NBA postpones L.A. Lakers-Clippers game in Kobe’s honor

The NBA has announced that Tuesday night’s Lakers vs. Clippers game has been postponed.

“This decision was made out of respect of the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant...,” the organization said in a statement. The game will be rescheduled at a later date.

— Ellie Rushing

Share
5:36 PM - January 27, 2020
5:36 PM - January 27, 2020

Pilot in Kobe Bryant deadly helicopter crash was trained to fly in bad weather

Ara Zoboyan, the pilot in the deadly helicopter crash, has held a commercial license since 2007 and was qualified to fly in and teach people to fly in poor weather, according to the Washington Post.

The federal investigation into the fatal crash is likely to focus on the foggy weather and potential mechanical issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Zoboyan, who had served as Kobe Bryant’s pilot for years, is remembered by his colleagues as “a cool, calm guy.”

“There’s a reason that people wanted to fly with him,” fellow pilot Jared Yochim told CNN.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
5:04 PM - January 27, 2020
5:04 PM - January 27, 2020

Refs remember Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion games: ‘You could put three guys on him and you couldn’t guard him’

Lower Merion's Kobe Bryant drives against Coatesvillle during a March 1995 game at the Palestra.
JERRY LODRIGUSS / Inquirer file photo
Lower Merion's Kobe Bryant drives against Coatesvillle during a March 1995 game at the Palestra.

Nancy Beatty’s first time officiating Kobe Bryant came during a Christmas tournament in 1995.

Early in the game, Beatty’s whistle blew, and Bryant took exception. “He goes, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’” Beatty told the Inquirer’s EJ Smith.

“The next time down, I can’t remember, I may have called a foul against him and afterward he comes up to me and he goes, ‘Yeah, you know what you’re doing.’"

Beatty had earned a legend’s respect that day. Now, she and her husband — also a retired referee who called Bryant’s high school games — join the millions mourning Bryant’s death.

— Ellie Rushing

Share
4:42 PM - January 27, 2020
4:42 PM - January 27, 2020

Lower Merion athletes remember Kobe Bryant as ‘larger than life’

Former and current basketball players of Lower Merion High School have always lived in the legacy of Kobe Bryant, a Lower Merion graduate, class of 1996. In the wake of his death, Inquirer sports reporter Phil Anastasia stood with players gathered on Monday to remember their most famous alum.

Guy Stewart, class of 1995, cries as he talks about Kobe Bryant during a news conference at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA on January 27, 2020. Stewart played on the high school basketball team with Bryant. They remained friends over the years.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Guy Stewart, class of 1995, cries as he talks about Kobe Bryant during a news conference at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA on January 27, 2020. Stewart played on the high school basketball team with Bryant. They remained friends over the years.

“There’s nowhere you’re going to go where you’re wearing your Lower Merion gear where people don’t say, ‘Oh, that’s Kobe’s school,’ ” said Matt O’Connor, a Lower Merion basketball standout in the class of 2019. “It just showed how much he cared about this community and how he took us along on the journey.”

“He would come back and sit on our bench and cheer us on. He always came back. He never left the community," said Steve Meehan, a Lower Merion basketball player in the class of 2008.

— Ellie Rushing

Share
4:30 PM - January 27, 2020
4:30 PM - January 27, 2020

Allen Iverson ‘devastated and heartbroken’ following Kobe Bryant’s death

Sixers great Allen Iverson penned an emotional Instagram tribute Monday to Kobe Bryant, a fellow member of NBA’s legendary 1996 draft class, writes Keith Pompey, the Inquirer’s Sixers beat reporter.

“Words cannot express how I’m feeling today,” Iverson wrote. “The only 2 words that ring in my head - devastated and heartbroken. I cannot seem to shake this feeling no matter what I’ve tried to do since hearing this yesterday.”

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
4:19 PM - January 27, 2020
4:19 PM - January 27, 2020

What they’re saying about Kobe Bryant, a classmate, teammate, and icon

Dan Gross, former Daily News columnist and Kobe Bryant’s high school classmate:

Kobe and I would exchange hellos or nods, throughout high school and that was about it. In our senior year, I was the bulldog mascot for three or four games late in the season and I remember hugging him in the hot itchy suit at half-court after a game. As senior year basketball season went on, students like me, who had never taken much interest in sports, filled the stands. It was Kobe madness and I was all in. We all were. I had to get a picture with his date, singer Brandy, at the prom.

Rabbi Neil Cooper of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El in Lower Merion:

What occurred to me as I received the news about Kobe is the incredible difference one person can make on the world. I listened from Jerusalem to reports about Kobe from American, Israeli, and European news outlets, including Al-Jazeera, all reporting on the tragedy and the magnitude of the loss. And I could not help but wonder, as we recall what happened 75 years ago, in a place where over a million Jews were murdered, what would the world have been like had they not been killed. How many “Kobes” would there have been?

Inquirer columnist Marcus Hayes:

Kobe-and-Philly was complicated because Kobe made it so. He embraced his suburban roots but not the urban hub from which they sprang. He teased La Salle, one of the colleges I covered at the time. He told the Explorers (and Duke) that he might come there, where his NBA veteran father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, himself a former Sixer, was an on-again, off-again assistant coach, but Kobe was never serious about La Salle or college or any of it. That bred the sort of smoldering resentment only a Big 5 betrayal can foster. But even that waned as Kobe ascended, and as he won.

Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski:

Go to your wife or your husband, or your mother or your father, or most of all your son or your daughter, and give him a hug. Give her a hug. Call them. Visit them. Tell them you love them. Go to their basketball games and their dance recitals, or just stop by for a beer and a laugh. Turn off the trickle for a while, and remember what the lasting lesson of Kobe Bryant’s death and this sickening day should be.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
3:30 PM - January 27, 2020
3:30 PM - January 27, 2020

ESPN to re-air Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game

ESPN will honor Kobe Bryant Monday night by re-airing the final NBA game of the basketball legend’s career.

Bryant scored 60 points in the April 13, 2016 game at the Staples Center against the Utah Jazz. The game will air on ESPN Monday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. ET.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
3:30 PM - January 27, 2020
3:30 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant’s death causes Planters to pause Mr. Peanut ads

Bryant’s death, one week from the Super Bowl, may also have an impact on the game’s much-anticipated advertising.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Planters nuts, currently in the midst of a campaign built around the death and funeral of the beloved Mr. Peanut, has paused its advertising activities.

In a statement, Planters said:

“Planters has paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy."

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
3:11 PM - January 27, 2020
3:11 PM - January 27, 2020

Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Bridge will light up purple for Kobe Bryant

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge.
Delaware River Port Authority
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge will display purple lights throughout the week in memory of NBA legend and Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant, the Delaware River Port Authority announced Monday.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia in 1978, and later played for the Lower Merion High School Aces, leading the team to state championships.

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
2:48 PM - January 27, 2020
2:48 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant’s former teacher: ‘There are some kids in your life that get into your heart'

Sandy Betegh, Kobe Bryant's former Spanish teacher at Lower Merion High School.
Maddie Hanna/Staff
Sandy Betegh, Kobe Bryant's former Spanish teacher at Lower Merion High School.

Sandy Betegh, who taught Spanish at Lower Merion High School and had Kobe Bryant as a student, said in an interview at her home in Broomall Monday that she was “still coming to terms with the fact he left.”

As a student, Bryant was “prepared and knowledgeable,” said Betegh, 69, who retired from Lower Merion 10 years ago. “A super kid.”

As an Italian speaker, Bryant had a natural grasp of Spanish and did well in class, Betegh said. But she didn’t predict what he would go on to achieve. Betegh recalled a “slight incident” when it came to her attention that Kobe would be dropping his Spanish 3 Honors class to play basketball. Betegh went to the school’s then-principal, saying it was a “poor precedent” to set. The principal said it was what Bryant’s family wanted.

“I never saw the greatness of him until he became professional,” Betegh said. In the classroom, “he was my kid.”

During one of his return trips to Lower Merion, Bryant visited Betegh, and she joked about coming to teach Spanish in California.

“There are some kids in your life that get into your heart. And they will always be there,” she said, tears coming to her eyes. — Maddie Hanna

Share
2:39 PM - January 27, 2020
2:39 PM - January 27, 2020

Charles Barkley: Death of Kobe ‘like losing a family member'

NBA Hall of Famer and former Sixers player Charles Barkley speaks at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden in September.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
NBA Hall of Famer and former Sixers player Charles Barkley speaks at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden in September.

NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley mourned the death of Bryant in a statement Monday, describing himself as “just sad. Really sad.”

Here’s Barkley’s full statement:

First, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all nine people killed in this tragedy. I really want to emphasize that in remembrance of the other seven people involved. For me, this is like losing a family member, to lose Kobe and his daughter, Gianna. Basketball is a close knit fraternity and I’m just sad. Really sad. My thoughts and prayers are with Vanessa and their girls, the Lakers family and every basketball fan around the world.

Barkley and Bryant’s time in the NBA crossed over during four seasons, from Bryant’s rookie year in 1996-97 through Barkley’s retirement from the Houston Rockets following the 1999-2000 season. The two played head-to-head 11 times — seven during the regular season, four in the playoffs — according to the Land of Basketball.

— Rob Tornoe

Share
2:25 PM - January 27, 2020
2:25 PM - January 27, 2020

Chaplain of Senate impeachment trial mourns Kobe’s death

During the opening prayer that preceded Monday’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Senate Chaplain Barry Black mourned the loss of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other passengers who died in Sunday’s helicopter crash.

“As millions mourn the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, and those who died with them, we think about life’s brevity, uncertainty, and legacy,” Black said. “Remind us we all have a limited time on Earth to leave the world better than we found it.”

— Rob Tornoe

Share
1:46 PM - January 27, 2020
1:46 PM - January 27, 2020

Family ‘still in disbelief’ over loss of Sarah Chester, daughter Payton

Among the nine people aboard the helicopter when it crashed were Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter, Payton, according to multiple reports.

“We’re just sad, I mean, we’re heartbroken,” Andy George, Sara Chester’s older brother, told the Orange County Register Monday. “It’s starting to settle in a little bit, but I’m still in disbelief. We were always trying to be there for each other and we were really close."

George choked up speaking of Payton, his niece whom he said played on the Mamba team for years alongside Gianna Bryant, also a victim of the helicopter crash.

“She had this sweetest soul, the kindest most gentlest person you would ever meet,” George said of Payton. “She always had a huge smile on her face... She enjoyed every minute of being there for them and in basketball, she worked so hard at it. She was good, she had a big figure ahead for her. It’s just so devastating.”

Todd Schmidt, the former principal at Harbor View Elementary where Payton went to school through the fifth grade, posted his own tribute on Facebook.

As folks mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant, I want to take a moment to remember two gorgeous human beings who were with him,...

Posted by Todd Schmidt on Sunday, January 26, 2020

— Rob Tornoe

Share
1:46 PM - January 27, 2020
1:46 PM - January 27, 2020

Kobe began flying in helicopters to ‘not compromise family time’

Kobe Bryant’s helicopter became his preferred mode of travel to avoid congested Los Angeles traffic and spend more time with family.

“Traffic started getting really, really bad and I wound up missing, like, a school play,” he has said. “These things just kept mounting and I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. That’s when I looked into helicopters, to get down and back in 15 minutes. That’s when it started.”

He began to rely on the helicopter to fly back and forth from basketball practice to pick up his kids from school, he said.

“My wife was like, ‘Listen, I can pick them up.’ I was like, 'No, no, no. I want to do that because … every chance I get to be with them, even if it’s just 20 minutes in a car, I want that.”

— Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
1:15 PM - January 27, 2020
1:15 PM - January 27, 2020

Bryant’s helicopter cleared to fly despite foggy conditions

The helicopter that crashed on Sunday near Los Angeles, killing Kobe Bryant and eight other passengers, had a special clearance to fly in foggy weather, multiple outlets are reporting.

According to audio records between the pilot and the tower at Burbank Airport captured by the website LiveATC.net, the helicopter was given Special Visual Flight Rules clearance to fly, even though the fog was so thick the Los Angeles Police Department grounded its own helicopters.

Later in the flight, just before losing radio contact, the pilot asked for “flight following,” which allows controllers to track the flight and be in regular contact.
The controller responded that the helicopter was “too low level for flight following at this time.”

— Rob Tornoe

Share
1:12 PM - January 27, 2020
1:12 PM - January 27, 2020

Investigation into crash likely to focus on fog, mechanical issues

The investigation into the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others will likely focus on the heavy fog and possible mechanical issues, aviation experts told the Los Angeles Times.

Bryant’s helicopter was given special clearance to fly in the poor conditions that grounded the Los Angeles police and county sheriff’s aircrafts, according to CNN.

The S-76B helicopter has a good reputation, and is favored by celebrities and executives, experts told the newspaper. Any mechanical problem would have been exacerbated by the bad weather, which tests even the most experienced pilots, aviation consultant William Lawrence told the Times.

“And if he is in the fog and on instruments and has an emergency, it makes recovery from that emergency far, far more difficult,” Lawrence said. “Any emergency is amplified when you can’t see your surroundings.” — Oona Goodin-Smith

Share
11:55 AM - January 27, 2020
11:55 AM - January 27, 2020

Gianna Bryant remembered as a passionate basketball player with professional aspirations

Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller / MCT
Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas.

Gianna Bryant, a 13-year-old who was also known as “Gigi,” was remembered as a passionate basketball player who planned on attending the University of Connecticut and had dreams of playing in the WNBA. She was also credited with re-sparking her father’s interested in the game following his retirement in 2016.

“You know what’s funny,” Bryant said on the “All the Smoke” podcast to Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on Jan. 9. “Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that’s she’s into basketball, we watch every night.”

Here’s a round-up of some tributes written about Gianna.

Gigi woke up Sunday morning to go play basketball, like any other day. She had her whole life ahead of her, and she does not deserve to be remembered for the way she died. She was just a kid who loved her family, her friends and playing and watching basketball.
Over the past year or so, Gigi started to draw attention from highlight purveyors like Ballislife and Slam. Anyone who watched those compilations because of her famous dad kept on watching because of the young player just starting to make her own name.

— Rob Tornoe

Share
10:45 AM - January 27, 2020
10:45 AM - January 27, 2020

Bob Costas criticized after mentioning sexual-assault allegations

Longtime sports anchor and pundit Bob Costas drew the ire of Kobe Bryant fans on social media by mentioning a 2005 settlement involving a sexual-assault allegation during CNN’s ongoing coverage of the crash Sunday evening.

“When something like this happens … there’s a tendency to canonize the person. It’s more truly human to say that he surmounted some missteps,” Costas said, pointing out that the allegations weren’t “definitive of his life, but it is a part of his life.”

In 2003, a 19-year-old woman claimed Bryant had sexually assaulted her when he stayed at the Colorado hotel where she worked. Police arrested then-24-year-old Bryant and charged him with sexual assault, but the case was dropped when Bryant’s accuser refused to testify. A subsequent civil suit was later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

“We’re talking about a great basketball player, and in the big picture, a very good man,” Costas added. “But not a saint. And that’s okay.”

New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand praised Costas for delivering a “measured” take on Bryant’s legacy, writing on Twitter it was “fair, journalistically, to explain a full picture, while honoring and respecting Bryant’s legend and his achievements both on and off the court.” — Rob Tornoe

Share
9:45 AM - January 27, 2020
9:45 AM - January 27, 2020

Here are the other victims of the Calabasas helicopter crash

Seven of the nine people aboard the helicopter when it crashed have been publicly identified. In addition to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, they are:

John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli

Altobelli, the longtime baseball coach of the Orange Coast College Pirates, and his wife, Keri, were on board the helicopter with their 13-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who was a teammate on Gianna’s Mamba Academy basketball team.

“He treated every player like his own son,” Justin Brodt, a sophomore first baseman at OCC, said at the baseball field on Sunday, according to the Orange County Register. “He wanted the best for everybody involved. That’s what made him such a successful coach and such a great guy.”

Christina Mauser

Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at a private Orange County elementary school, was the Mamba girls basketball team’s top assistant coach.

“I’m scared, I think, more than anything I’m scared about the future,” Matt Mauser, Christina’s husband, told the Today show on Monday. “She was warm. She was incredibly bright… She was just an amazing person.”

Ara Zobayan

Zobayan was the pilot flying Bryant’s helicopter when it crashed on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times and KTLA, a local NBC affiliate.

Darren Kemp, a flight student who trained under Zobayan, told the Los Angeles Times he was a dedicated, caring instructor who only wanted the best for his students. KTLA reporter Christina Pascucci, who is also a licensed pilot, offered a tribute to Zobayan on social media.

— Rob Tornoe

Share
8:30 AM - January 27, 2020
8:30 AM - January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant’s first mention in The Inquirer: ‘Remember this name’

The first time Bryant’s name was mentioned in either the Philadelphia Daily News or The Inquirer was in an Inquirer basketball preview from December 1992. Bryant was an incoming freshman to Lower Merion High School, and he was mentioned twice.

“Remember this name: Kobe Bryant. The 6-4, 14-year-old freshman and son of Joe Bryant, a former star at La Salle, will not only play on the varsity, he will start. ‘He’s a very talented player," [Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer] Downer said. “He has the ability to do everything well, and he has phenomenal range on his jumper.’” — Tommy Rowan

This article ran in the Dec. 7, 1992 edition of The Inquirer.
Inquirer Archives
This article ran in the Dec. 7, 1992 edition of The Inquirer.
Share
8:05 AM - January 27, 2020
8:05 AM - January 27, 2020

Signe’s cartoon about the death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Signe Wilkinson, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, penned this tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

Signe cartoon TOON27 Kobe Bryant
Signe Wilkinson
Signe cartoon TOON27 Kobe Bryant
Share
7:30 AM - January 27, 2020
7:30 AM - January 27, 2020

Mourning Kobe Bryant at Lower Merion High School

Basketball jerseys lay on the ground amid a pile of items at a makeshift memorial to Kobe Bryant outside the Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School. Among them: A Kobe Bryant No. 33 Lower Merion High School Jersey. He couldn't wear No. 33 when he played for the Lakers — the number had been retired in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Anna Orso/Inquirer
Basketball jerseys lay on the ground amid a pile of items at a makeshift memorial to Kobe Bryant outside the Bryant Gymnasium at Lower Merion High School. Among them: A Kobe Bryant No. 33 Lower Merion High School Jersey. He couldn't wear No. 33 when he played for the Lakers — the number had been retired in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

As Lower Merion High School students arrived Monday morning, they walked past a growing makeshift memorial to Bryant that had formed outside the Bryant Gymnasium, named after the NBA superstar.

Among the items laid in front of the school were piles of flowers, cards, candles, sneakers, a hoagie, and basketballs with “RIP” written in marker. Also laying among the memorabilia were basketball jerseys, including a Kobe Bryant Lower Merion High School Jersey — No. 33. Bryant has before said he wanted to wear No. 33 when he played for the Lakers, but the number had already been retired in honor of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. — Anna Orso

Share
7:00 AM - January 27, 2020
7:00 AM - January 27, 2020

Recovery, identification of victims could take days

During a Sunday evening press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the investigation and recovery of victims could take days due to the location of the helicopter accident.

“It’s a logistical nightmare because the crash site itself is not easily accessible,” Villanueva told reporters, adding the mourners and well-wishers descending on the area are complicating recovery efforts.

Firefighters work the scene of a helicopter crash where former NBA star Kobe Bryant died, Sunday.
Mark J. Terrill / AP
Firefighters work the scene of a helicopter crash where former NBA star Kobe Bryant died, Sunday.

Chief medical examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said once the victims’ bodies are recovered, his office can work to identify them and notify their families.

“We’re doing everything we can to confirm identifications and give closure to the families involved,” Lucas said. — Rob Tornoe

Locator map of Calasbas, Calif., site of helicopter crash on Sunday that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others.
Share
6:00 AM - January 27, 2020
6:00 AM - January 27, 2020

LAPD grounded its helicopters due to foggy conditions

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to the Los Angeles Times it grounded its helicopters Sunday morning due to foggy conditions.

“The weather situation did not meet our minimum standards for flying,” LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the Times.

Rubenstein said the LAPD requires a minimum of two miles of visibility and an 800-foot cloud ceiling for all flights. He added that when conditions allow, the LAPD typically has two helicopters in the air — one in the San Fernando Valley and one in the L.A. Basin. — Rob Tornoe

Share