Storyline: Kobe Bryant Death

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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.

The late, great Kobe Bryant certainly had a major impact on a lot of the stars in the NBA today, including Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant. In an exclusive interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, Durant explained how Bryant impacted him as a player. Durant mostly shared about his experience with Kobe in the 2012 Olympics, and how being around the Los Angeles Lakers legend changed his approach to the game (Quote at the 10:20 mark of the video below): “Just the first few practices of Team USA in 2012. Just his approach to practice and then also how he played the games and his focus on what he wanted to do out there on the court. He was a defender for us and a shotmaker. So to see Kobe play a role outside of just being the main scorer, it showed me that anybody can lock into a role and perfect it.”


Before his death, Bryant was in serious talks about creating an animation studio. Bruce W. Smith, creator of the Disney animated show “The Proud Family,” said in an interview with Double Toasted that he and the creator of the “Despicable Me” franchise, Sergio Pablos, sat down with Bryant over dinner to go over future animation projects. “[Bryant] was heavily invested in starting an animation studio. So for the past six months or so Kobe and I have been in deep talks about making that happen,” Smith said. “So we’re together finding artists to galvanize his dream and Kobe was, like they were saying, Kobe was beginning his second act and animation was going to play a huge part in that.”

To keep the list short this time, the direct-elect categories that send one person each straight to the Hall – no finalist round for them – have been suspended. That includes the men’s and women’s veterans committees, the early African-American committee and the contributor committee. The exception this year is the international committee, which still will select a Hall of Famer to be announced with the actual Class of 2020 at the NCAA men’s Final Four April 4 in Atlanta. Said Colangelo: “Because of the enormity, even before Kobe’s death, we think Kobe and Duncan and Garnett bring to [this] … we’ve never had a class that strong at the top. And then with Kobe’s death, it added more focus.”

The upside of waiting? Not to get “lost in the shuffle,” as Colangelo described it. “Sad as it all is, we have to deal with that,” Colangelo said. “And life does go on in the world of basketball and the Hall of Fame. We don’t want to take away from the people here who are prospective inductees.” Asked if the 2020 ceremony in Springfield might be different as well from recent editions, the Hall chairman said: “Let’s put it this way: There’s a great sensitivity as a result, and so that leads to probably a little bit different than in the past. But it’s going to be done the right way.”
6 days ago via ESPN

New Boston Red Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar, who grew up in the Los Angeles area as a Lakers and Kobe Bryant fan, was most impressed by Bryant’s post-basketball career and had hoped to emulate it when he was done playing baseball. Pillar said he hopes to write a children’s book about baseball like the one Bryant wrote about basketball, but he had been waiting until his career was over to approach Bryant about it. “That’s something that’s going to haunt me,” Pillar said.
6 days ago via ESPN

Pillar’s fandom went as far as to name his daughter “Kobie” after she was born in October 2017. He shared the story with the Toronto Sun in January 2018 of how he and his wife, Amanda, landed on the name. “My wife wouldn’t admit to naming her after Kobe Bryant,” Pillar told the newspaper, “but it was a name I grew up around and obviously I was a big Kobe Bryant fan, there’s no secret there. We wanted to name our daughter something with a K. We wanted her to be KP; that was the nickname I had growing up. We bounced around a bunch of different K names, and Kobe came out one day on a road trip and the name Kobie Rae came out and it was in our final two.

“Two men who forever changed the NBA and the great game of basketball globally in ways only legends could,” Wilbon said. “So let’s take these next few moments to celebrate and show gratitude for their contributions to this game we all love,” Smith added. “They will forever be missed, but certainly never forgotten,” Wilbon said. “Thank you, David and Kobe.” Chants of “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe” then showered the arena as the clock counted down.

“It was very hard,” O’Neal said, recalling the moment he heard the news of Bryant’s death on Jan. 26. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. I was at the house the day it happened, and my son brought me the thing, and you know how the internet is. “(I said) ‘Stop playing with me. Get out of my face with that right now. Just stop.’ And then I got the calls. I lost a sister couple months back. Never imagined that my little sister would be gone before me, and then to have a guy who helped me become as big as I am. We will always be forever linked.”

“I come from a tradition where people honor their ancestors, and Kobe, at this point, is in some ways an ancestor, and that energy is still with us and we honor that,” Common said. “We honor what he contributed in his 41 years of life on this earth, what he gave to us by showing how great of a basketball player and how determined and focused he was. That’s how we can inspire others in many ways. We can change the world just by being within our own greatness and he did that, so I feel like we’re getting to honor him. This All-Star Game means a lot, lot more because we’re honoring Kobe Bryant.”

In one of the most anticipated Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame classes in years, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan headline the finalists up for induction in August. The finalists were announced on Friday at NBA All-Star Weekend, and Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo said they kept the class small this year because of the magnitude of the players who are expected to reach the Hall. Colangelo said that was the plan before Kobe Bryant’s death.

The tragic news of Kobe’s helicopter crash hit Pau while driving home and, as his wife noted to him, the big man’s face ‘went completely white’ at that moment. “I get home and just… started crying. It was hard to find words, I couldn’t talk to anyone for days. The only person I talked to was Robert (Pelinka). He was the first I had the strength to talk to, just to know what was going on, what happened and who else was there, how was Vanessa (Bryant), how were the kids. Basically, I didn’t leave the house,” Gasol said for LA Times.

Officials have not released details about the Feb. 24 memorial for Kobe Bryant and others killed in a helicopter crash last month, but it appears the event at Staples Center will be restricted to those who have tickets. Several sources have said there are no plans for a ceremony outside the downtown Los Angeles venue or at nearby L.A. Live, where thousands of fans converged after Bryant’s death on Jan. 26. There also are no plans for a procession, as was the case after slain rapper Nipsey Hussle’s memorial at Staples Center in April. Sources said those without tickets will be encouraged to watch the event on TV at home rather than coming downtown.

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.

Over the previous three years, Altobelli had become close with Bryant. Their daughters played basketball together on Bryant’s elite Mamba Sports Academy team. Altobelli lived vicariously through Alyssa the same as Bryant did Gianna. The fathers were quite the pair — Altobelli the legendary junior college coach with nearly 700 career wins and three state championships, Bryant the legendary NBA star who saw in Altobelli what he saw in himself: drive and fire and desire. They were winners. So were their girls.

ON JAN. 26, John Altobelli died alongside his wife, Keri, 46, and Alyssa, 14, in the helicopter crash that killed 41-year-old Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and four others traveling to a Team Mamba basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California. The Altobellis left behind J.J., a 29-year-old scout with the Boston Red Sox, and a daughter, Lexi, 16. John Altobelli was 56. Dutiful father, beloved coach, respected mind, rapier wit, Altobelli was, above all, something more.

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.

Emiliano Carchia: Olimpia Milano will honor Kobe Bryant in upcoming Italian Cup by wearing special jerseys Giorgio Armani: Honouring him one more time is our way of thanking him for everything he has done for basketball across the globe

Emiliano Carchia: Olimpia Milano will honor Kobe Bryant in upcoming Italian Cup by wearing special jerseys Giorgio Armani: Honouring him one more time is our way of thanking him for everything he has done for basketball across the globe

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.

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.

That didn’t matter to Bryant who, a decade-plus after bypassing college basketball, nonetheless developed a connection with college sports. Irvine’s campus is a 10-minute drive from the Bryant household in Newport Coast, California. And in ’07, after the seventh-seeded Lakers were eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns, Bryant was in high dudgeon, plotting a potential LA exit because of his lack of faith in the Lakers’ capacity to build a championship-level roster.

Someone in Bryant’s circle reached out to one of Irvine’s associate athletic directors to inquire about the star getting in early morning workouts during the offseason. That’s how the story of not only Kobe Bryant and UC Irvine begins, but it’s what led to a friendship that has made the past two weeks particularly difficult on UCI’s athletic community. “It’s been stunning for everybody to experience this,” UC Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner said. “You feel like you’ve lost somebody who’s a neighbor. Kobe’s an icon, a superstar and an incredible presence. He’s that everywhere, but he’s especially that what when people see him as a neighbor, father, a guy in the community. We’d see him at Chipotle near campus, and he come on campus some, because he was incredibly private and we all knew that. The best thing about the way it was for him and us: we allowed him to be that guy. There are very few places in the world where he could be that. I never felt like he was overwhelmed here.”

“Every time I look at my tattoos, it puts me back in the perspective of time, or the inspiration behind it,” James says. “So that’s all part of the journey.” In that way, the Lakers’ All-Stars aren’t so different than the tattooed fans who rooted from Bryant from afar. They weren’t ready to let go, so they got something permanent they could hold onto. Ortega is a committed bodybuilder. In his Instagram profile picture he’s flexing bulging biceps in a gold No. 24 Bryant jersey. And though he connects first and foremost to Bryant’s love of family, he says, part of the reason he wanted a tattoo after Bryant’s death was so that he could look at his forearm on the days when the weight is a struggle and “see that it’s Kobe basically telling me, ‘You better not fuck around. Push through it.’”

Spike Lee’s suit wasn’t the only tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday night at the 2020 Oscars. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was also the first face that viewers and the crowd of Hollywood’s biggest names saw at the Dolby Theatre when the Academy Awards did its annual “in memoriam” segment. While Billie Eilish sang a cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday, Bryant holding his Oscar for Dear Basketball was on screen, along with a quote from a 2008 interview: “Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going.”

Inside one waiting area, a couple of dozen passengers sat glumly. Some of their charter flights had been grounded indefinitely because of poor visibility. They fidgeted with phones. Some watched CBS’s “Sunday Morning.” But Bryant glided into another lounge and walked with his small group of teenage basketball players, parents and a coach through the automatic glass doors. They wiggled into a warmed-up Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, white with two tones of blue stripes. Minutes later, at 9:06 a.m., they took to the air, on their way to the second day of a weekend tournament. The pilot steered the helicopter toward their destination in Thousand Oaks. As thick clouds loomed behind the hills to the north, they were one of the few helicopters in the sky.

Bryant, 41, had become known for his airborne commutes. In his last years as a star for the Los Angeles Lakers, he often took helicopters to practices and games, figuring it freed his time for other things, like family. By the time the Mambas arrived at Mamba Sports Academy late that morning, the two-day Mamba Cup was well underway. The tournament featured boys and girls, ages 9 to 14. Teams came from throughout California and several states.

Back in Orange County, John Altobelli was hard at work, preparing for the season opener of the Orange Coast College baseball team. He had coached the team since 1992, winning more than 700 games and four state junior-college championships, including in 2019. A scrimmage and fund-raiser on Saturday kept him away from his daughter Alyssa’s basketball games that day. But he planned to go on Sunday, dreading the drive that took 90 minutes, but often much longer in the city’s notorious traffic. Then his phone buzzed. It was Bryant. “Sweet,” Altobelli told an assistant coach. “Kobe’s taking us in the chopper.”

To understand why Kobe Bryant meant so much to the residents of the Taguig Tenement, you must first understand the Philippine love affair with basketball. In the Philippines, you can find the game everywhere, from tiny fishing villages to congested urban intersections. Basketball is played in cemeteries, amid rice paddies, along train tracks and on street corners. Courts come in all shapes and sizes. Full courts, half courts, quarter courts. Sometimes a hoop with no court. On the best courts there are fading free throw and 3-point lines, but more often there are ankle-wrecking cracks and curbs and an edict to watch out for cars — both parked and moving. “Basketball is a religion to us,” Swift says. “We put basketball courts wherever we want to, wherever we please. On gates, on trees, on top of sand, concrete, dirt, whatever. All you really need is a ring and a basketball and you can be by yourself and play this game peacefully and enjoy.”

Almost instantly, images of the portrait went viral. It even was shown on the Staples Center video board in Los Angeles during the Lakers’ tribute to Kobe prior to the first game after his death. Strangers started flocking to the Tenement to pay their respects to Bryant and his daughter. One young woman named Britney stuck with Swift. She lived in Los Angeles and was visiting Manila for work. The photo found her. She knew she had to come by. “The emotion she came in with, that’s when I knew we touched a lot of people,” Swift says. “This was not just a Filipino thing.”

“But then I found this folder of photos of he and I, which I had put together,” Bernstein said. “And that was just brutal because it goes back to his rookie year.” He posted 10 pictures of them together on Instagram. “I feel like it’s my service, my job to be a conduit between people’s need to be connected to Kobe in some way shape and form,” Bernstein said, “and if they can do it through my photos or my stories or whatever or through the book we did together, it’s extremely gratifying to me through this malaise of grief.”

The slam by James, a double-clutch reverse off an outlet pass from Avery Bradley, appeared to be a carbon copy of a dunk Bryant threw down on Nov. 18, 2001, against the Sacramento Kings — from the approach to the launching spot to the side of the court at Staples Center being the same. “Ever see the movie ‘The 6th Man’?” James asked after the Lakers’ 125-120 victory over the Warriors. “Kobe came down, put himself in my body and gave me that dunk on that break.”
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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.
Storyline: Gianna Bryant Death
Things weren’t much better away from basketball. Nance had no energy. All he wanted to do was sleep. When he was awake, Nance battled stomach cramps and constantly found himself making trips to the bathroom. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t gain weight. His family knew something was up and took Nance to the Cleveland Clinic. It was there that Nance was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease — an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the digestive tract. The disease has no cure, but can go into remission with proper treatment. Over 3.1 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with IBD.
As he received treatment, Nance’s life improved both on and off the court. He played well enough to be selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2015 NBA draft. Two and a half seasons later, Nance was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was back in his hometown — the same place he decided he wasn’t going to quit. “I’m just thankful I didn’t, obviously,” Nance told Yahoo Sports.
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