The sudden and tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, …

The sudden and tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, who all perished in a horrific helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, loomed over the event as a whole. Bryant was honored with a heartwarming video tribute during the event, and his former teammates Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, who Bryant played 20 seasons combined with, took the stage to tell their favorite stories and memories of their friend. Bryant was named the L.A. Sports Awards Sportsman of the Year recipient in 2008.

More on Gianna Bryant Death

Hundreds of people have descended on a cemetery here to pay respects to Kobe Bryant, but the owner says they are going to the wrong gravesite. Flowers left for Bryant and his daughter Gianna are being cleared out on a daily basis at the Pacific View Memorial Park because the private plot belongs to another family, a media relations specialist for the cemetery told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a couple that came to the cemetery to visit Kobe Bryant's gravesite said they thought it was his – even after a security guard insisted it wasn't. The couple, which declined to give their names, pointed to a small bush with Christmas ornaments outside the private plot and said they thought it was a ploy to fool people into thinking the person was buried months ago.
Twenty-four and two have become significant numbers for the entire athletic community, including WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert, who was previously the CEO of Deloitte. During an appearance at the 2020 MAKERS Conference last week, she had the numbers “24” and “2” painted on her nails with the iconic Lakers’ colors — yellow and purple. It was her 22-year-old daughter’s idea to pay a personal tribute to the Bryants.
“Kobe was a huge advocate for the WNBA, and for women and girls in sports. Girls drop out of sports at an alarming rate by the age of 13,” said Engelbert, noting that Gianna and her teammates were all 13. “Kobe also championed those who hoped to be a part of the league in the future by working with college teams like the University of Connecticut and University of Oregon. His impact was much broader than I certainly thought,” she added.
The demand for tickets to the Feb. 24 memorial service celebrating the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant far exceeds the number of available seats. More than 90,000 people registered for tickets in the first 24 hours, a source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports on Saturday. Capacity at Staples Center is approximately 20,000, and many of those seats are expected to be reserved for Kobe’s friends and family, NBA luminaries and other invited guests.
The plans for Kobe and Gigi Bryant's Staples Center memorial are getting locked down and details for the service will be unveiled today. Sources familiar with the planning tell us event organizers are working closely with Kobe's family to finalize who will speak at the service, and which singers and entertainers will take part. We're told tickets will be available to the general public, although there will be a number of invited guests who get tickets first, including family, friends, players, NBA officials and, we're told, season ticket holders.
The NBA's plan for honoring Kobe Bryant at this weekend's All-Star Game in Chicago is taking shape. Grammy winner and Windy City native Jennifer Hudson will perform a tribute to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other people killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, the NBA announced Thursday morning. Hudson will perform before player introductions for Sunday's 69th All-Star Game.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were buried Friday at a Southern California cemetery following their deaths January 26 in a helicopter crash, death certificates released Tuesday by Los Angeles County officials show. Their resting place is Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona Del Mar, California, the documents state. The cemetery is about two miles from the Pacific Ocean and less than a 10-minute drive from the family's church, Our Lady Queen of Angels, in Newport Beach. No details about a graveside service were released.
The memorial for Kobe and Gigi Bryant will be attended by friends, family, NBA officials and players, season ticket holders and local politicians. The remaining seats will be ticketed and go to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis. As we reported, the memorial will be held at Staples Center on February 24th, where seating capacity stands at around 20,000. Fact is ... hundreds of thousands of people would like to honor Kobe and Gigi, but there's no way all of them can be accommodated.
We're told just like the Michael Jackson and Nipsey Hussle memorials, the streets around Staples will be closed for security and traffic control. The memorial will not be broadcast on the screens outside Staples or L.A. Live.
Vanessa Bryant: I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all.

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Wreckage from the helicopter that crashed last month and killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others did not show any outward evidence of engine failure, the National Transportation Safety Board said Friday. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the others died in the Jan. 26 crash in Calabasas, California. The group was flying to a girls basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy. Gianna's team was coached by Bryant and was playing in the tournament.
The NTSB is investigating the accident, including any role heavy fog played, and a final report isn't expected for at least a year. A witness told the NTSB that the helicopter was flying forward and downward through the fog before it crashed right into the hillside. The witness said he saw the helicopter for 1 to 2 seconds before it hit the hill.
Ramona Shelburne: From Vanessa Bryant’s IG.

http://twitter.com/ramonashelburne/status/1225855525952348160
Jay-Z is opening up about the final conversation he had with Kobe Bryant just weeks before the NBA star's untimely death. "'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said Bryant told him as they celebrated New Year's at the hip hop mogul's home.
"So Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we've hung out multiple times," Jay-Z responded. "He was last in my house on New Year's and he was just in the greatest space I've seen him in and one of the last things he said to me was, 'You've gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" Jay-Z said. The rapper continued: "That was one of the most hurtful things because he was so proud. The look on his face...I looked at him and said, 'Oh she's going to be the best female basketball player in the world.' He was just so proud of what he said. That was a tough one. My wife and I are taking that really tough."
Quinn Cook: Still heartbroken but man Kobe and Gianna 💔💔this one will never not hurt. RiP DAD!
Joe Favorito: Tearful @NancyLieberman told story of how #kobebryant called her #mamamamba & asked her to come train his daughter Saturday night prior to crash. Told Diana Munson she will be a role model for the family over time . #munsondinner #SportsBiz
Why No. 2 and not the No. 24 for his former Olympic teammate, contemporary competitor and the man he is tasked with taking the torch from as the next great superstar for the Lakers? "Zhuri," James said. Zhuri Nova is James' 5-year-old daughter. Before James changed his Instagram profile picture to a photograph of Bryant holding Gianna in his arms after the Lakers' championship win in Orlando, Florida, in 2009, James' profile pic was a photo of Zhuri with a big smile.
NBC Sports Chicago: You also announced plans for Team LeBron (James) to wear No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) to wear No. 24 to honor Gianna and Kobe Bryant’s numbers, as well as jersey patches with nine stars to honor all victims. Some had suggested having one team wear Kobe’s No. 8 and the other wear Kobe’s No. 24. But this gesture had to touch all families involved, as well as current players? Adam Silver: It’s celebratory but emotional. This is what makes these great athletes such special people too. I think what we forget sometimes as fans is that this is a very public mourning period.
NBC Sports Chicago: What have you seen from the NBA community from David’s passing to Kobe’s, which is hard for anybody to wrap their mind around? Adam Silver: It’s a reminder of how strong this family is. From team owners, former team owners, players, former players, executives at the league and teams and even alumni, it feels like a family organization. During difficult times, a family comes together. I’ve been really moved this week by the outpouring of support for not just Kobe’s family but the families of the other victims of that helicopter crash. I’ve been moved by the players’ desire to memorialize Kobe and his daughter at the All-Star game and the events that are now coming together — and also by those who want to make sure that we recognize David Stern at an otherwise celebratory occasion like All-Star weekend.
NBC Sports Chicago: You cited the celebratory nature of All-Star weekend. How do you as commissioner and as a league try to strike the proper balance between that while also honoring the legacies of Stern and Bryant? Adam Silver: By remaining authentic and not trying to force anything. By putting in place the platform both for memorializing but also celebrating and letting these events play out in their own way. That’s what I’ve learned over many years here. You don’t want to try to overproduce these events. I have no doubt that there will be spontaneous moments. I think some things we are planning may fall flat or not have the desired impact. But other small moments that we would’ve never anticipated would have the consequences they do will invariably end up being the most memorable moments of the weekend.

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Dave McMenamin: Courtside.

https://twitter.com/mcten/status/1223415403340152832
The NBA, NBPA and Nike announced today that the 2020 NBA All-Star uniforms will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and their seven friends and teammates who tragically passed away in last Sunday’s helicopter accident. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron (James) wearing the No. 2 and Team Giannis (Antetokounmpo) wearing the No. 24 – Gianna and Kobe’s basketball jersey numbers, respectively.
On Friday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET, the league’s best rookies and sophomores will take the court during NBA Rising Stars, all wearing jersey patches featuring the Nos. 2 and 24 in the center surrounded by nine stars. The same patch will be worn by the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants competing in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.
Fred Katz: Former Laker Moe Wagner on Kobe: “It was a weird weird tough weekend. I’m not gonna lie. It hit me harder than I can describe.” Says he‘d attended Gigi’s team practice before. “Life is precious. You gotta appreciate every second. I called my loved ones & told them I loved them”
After flying in after their loss in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Sacramento Kings didn’t get settled in L.A. until 2 a.m. on Thursday, so that’s when Luke Walton visited the larger-than-life shrine that has grown in memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant outside Staples Center at L.A. Live. “It was emotional,” said Walton, the Kings coach who played with Kobe for nine seasons and won two NBA titles with him on the Lakers. “There were people at 2 in the morning … they were chanting. There was a group of people chanting ‘Kooo-beeee.’ Two in the morning. And you’re looking around and, again, seeing how many people he touched, and the flowers and the candles and the messages and the handwritten notes. It was an emotional setting.”
Pau Gasol: #RIPmybrother #RIPGigi #RIPJohnAltobelli #RIPKeriAltobelli #RIPAlyssaAltobelli #RIPSarahChester #RIPPaytonChester #RIPChristinaMauser #RIPAraZobayan

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Vanessa Bryant has not publicly spoken or released a statement. After the crash she made her Instagram page private. Wednesday it was public again with a new profile image.
When the trio huddled at that Dec. 29 game at Staples, Gianna excitedly told the story of how she “did the Shammgod on this girl” in a recent game. “She was so locked in,” Shammgod said. “Her mind-set was just like his mind-set.” That was evident in a 2019 glimpse of Gianna on camera with the Las Vegas CBS affiliate during a trip to watch that season’s opener for the W.N.B.A.’s Las Vegas Aces. Explaining her fascination with film study, Gigi could not have sounded much more like her father when she said, “More information, more inspiration.”
Shams Charania: Lakers guard Quinn Cook is changing his number from No. 2 to No. 28 to honor Gianna Bryant, combining Gigi's No. 2 and Kobe's No. 8, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.

https://twitter.com/Farbod_E/status/1222294529081888769

https://twitter.com/jonjohnsonwip/status/1222278821094789120
The bodies of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others who died in a helicopter crash have been recovered from a Calabasas hillside, coroner officials said Tuesday. Authorities on Sunday removed the bodies of at least three victims from the wreckage. Remains of the six remaining victims were located Monday, and their bodies have been taken to the Los Angeles County coroner’s forensic science center, where officials will work to identify them.
In heavy fog and with no radio connection to the controller, likely blocked by the mountains in low altitude, the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. “This was totally avoidable, and on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible,’’ said Robert Ditchey, a longtime airplane pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive who lives in Los Angeles. “Here’s one of the most important people in the world who comes to a tragic end like this and you say, ‘Why? What the hell happened?’
“They’re in the fog, and you’re down hugging the ground trying to fly up the highway and barely able to see it,’’ Ditchey said. “He’s down only 100 feet or so above the ground. In that area of the San Fernando Valley you have mountains on either side of you … and the clouds have obscured them, and you don’t have that much room to maneuver.’’ Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the precise conditions when the crash occurred are still under investigation, but he acknowledged there was “an issue with visibility and a low ceiling’’ on Sunday.
Gordon appeared close to tears as he spoke to reporters Sunday night. “It’s sad,” Gordon said. “Personally and selfishly, I don’t get to develop a relationship with him that I knew was going to be something special. It’s just sad for him and his family and Gigi (Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter) as well. I really don’t know what to say.”
Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 MVP and WNBA champion, said Gigi was "symbolic of his legacy, and also the future of women's basketball." Gigi had become a big fan of 11-time national champion UConn, and she went to Huskies games with her father, including UConn's senior day in 2019 for Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Samuelson said Bryant sent her a text after that game. "He recorded me walking out with my dad," Samuelson said. "He said he had to get that moment, because he knew he'd be a wreck if it was him."
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird sat next to Bryant and Gigi at the WNBA All-Star Game last July in Las Vegas. The four-time Olympic gold medalist -- at the game with girlfriend and U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe -- was sidelined with a knee injury. They got a chance to chat with Bryant and Gigi while watching many of the best women's basketball players in the world. "He just really wanted to expose Gigi to as much greatness as he could," Bird said. "He wanted her to meet Megan, to meet me. I know he's taken his whole family to Megan's soccer games. He's been very present in the WNBA. He was going on this journey with his daughter, and I think we could all feel that it was going somewhere special. For him as a father, for her as a future basketball player, for them in that father-daughter relationship."
However, Terry has also taken on a prominent role in coaching youth girls basketball and his daughters. He spoke on the broadcast about the impact Gianna Bryant had on them. “[Gianna] was a walking image [of Kobe Bryant]. I watched her shoot one of her last 3-point shots, it was right in front of me and it was the same body mannerisms. She had it, she embodied it and she was the same competitor,” Terry said. “It was funny. Before I came to work today, my youngest is in the driveway shooting baskets. My second-youngest now tells me she’s gonna now play basketball. And that’s because of GiGi. They don’t know Kobe. They know GiGi."

http://twitter.com/UConnWBB/status/1221941905531002880
Goran Dragic: 💔 🙏🏼 #BlackMambaForever #MambacitaForever pic.twitter.com/uNmOBLHfMm

http://twitter.com/Goran_Dragic/status/1221896363358683137
Kobe Bryant had already made plans for his daughter, Gianna -- AKA GiGi -- to follow in his legendary footsteps by filing to trademark her very own hoops nickname. TMZ Sports obtained the paperwork Kobe filed for "Mambacita" on Dec. 30, 2019. Of course, the name is both a tip of the hat to GiGi's father -- the Black Mamba -- and also to her own growing prowess on the hardcourt. According to the docs ... the plan was to put "Mambacita" on all sorts of sportswear -- shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.
In our short conversations that day, we talked about Gianna and her love of basketball. We joked about how much more hectic our lives had gotten with the addition of more kids. His youngest daughter, Capri, was born last June, one month after my second son. When I chastised him for not coming around Lakers games more often, he said, “I’ve been busy chasing these four kids around.”
Saturday was the final time Young spoke to Kobe and Gianna. A source told The Athletic prior to the Hawks’ game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night that Kobe and Gianna FaceTimed with Young on Saturday to congratulate him for being named a starter in the All-Star Game. Young didn’t want to divulge all of the details of their conversation but did confirm that he spoke with the father-daughter duo the day before they tragically died, alongside seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how he’s seen my game progress,” Young said before he paused for eight seconds as he choked up. “He was just happy for me. He was saying how proud he was of me and how he wants to continue seeing me be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all of the kids looking up to me and continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out. That was one of the last things he said to me.”
Gianna told Young how much she loved watching him play and how big of a fan she was of the Hawks’ point guard. Young told her he made it a point to watch her highlights on YouTube and Twitter. She admired Young so much that she wanted to train how he trains. It didn’t matter that her father was one of the best basketball players of all time; she wanted to be like Young. So, Gianna started training with Alex Bazzell, Young’s trainer during the offseason, in addition to her lessons from dad. Young went to one of Bryant’s camps while he was in high school. But Young’s relationship with Kobe only started blossoming in the past two years as Gianna started idolizing Young.

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As Gigi grew into a young teenager, her love for basketball transcended watching her dad. She began playing competitive ball year-round, with her father helping to coach her team. During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel’s television show recently, Kobe said of Gigi that she “for sure” wanted to play in the WNBA someday. “The best thing that happens is when we go out and she’ll be standing next to me and fans will come up to me like ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy — somebody to carry on the legacy and the tradition’ and (Gigi) will be like ‘Oy, I got this. We don’t need a boy for that. I got this!'”
Rick Fox: Kobe and Gianna may your souls and the souls of the others who were with you Rest In Peace. My condolences and prayers go out to Kobe’s wife Vanessa, his daughters and the Bryant Family. I Love You Kobe and will miss you dearly.
Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak released the following statement on the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna: “I’m deeply saddened and shocked by today’s tragic news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. I had the privilege of witnessing up close, from start to finish, Kobe’s remarkable 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. His accomplishments were truly extraordinary – a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA MVP – and he will be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats.”
Pat Riley: Pat Riley statement: "Kobe Bryant was a Godsend to this world; not just to the NBA, but to all those who hold dear and cherish family, friends and faith. Today I mourn the tremendous loss of Kobe, his daughter, Gianna, and the other passengers. The Lord will bless Vanessa, the entire Bryant family, and all of those who lost their most precious loved ones today.”
Thaddeus Young: I'm so sad right now! Not Kobe and Gigi! This is so tragic! Tomorrow isn't promised by any means! One of the many reasons why I kiss and hug my wife and kids everyday I'm home and before walking out the door. #RIPKobeBryant
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.
Kobe's daughter Gianna Maria Onore -- aka GiGi -- was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash ... reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.We're told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.
Storyline: Gianna Bryant Death
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August 7, 2022 | 4:31 pm EDT Update
Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.
August 7, 2022 | 3:16 am EDT Update

Christian Wood talks trade to Dallas

Make no mistake, though: Much as Wood seemed to revel in the chance to take a breather and hang with young fans, he said he’s wholly focused on the possibilities that lie ahead with his tenure on the Mavs. “It’s a great opportunity for me and for this organization to try and take that next step,” Christian Wood said. “I just want to win games. My main objective is to try and get to the Finals.”
“I’m still counting my blessings and happy to be here,” he said. Specifically, the 6-foot-9 center was speaking about being a Maverick. But on Thursday, that gratitude could also extend to his time with the kids he got to work out with in Plano.  “I was once that little kid that would look up to NBA players and hope that he would sign my shoe or hope that I would be able to meet him in person,” he said. “With kids, I can be myself and I can be a kid myself. So it’s fun.”