In news that shocked America and the athletic world, basketball great Kobe Bryant, 41, died January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant was a husband and a father of four daughters, one of whom – 13-year-old Gianna Bryant – was also lost in the crash. There were seven other people in the crash, including the pilot, but none survived.
The accident occurred shortly before 10:00 a.m. local time, sending a wave of shock and sadness across the country.
Bryant spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He lived in Orange County and generally traveled by helicopter to all of the team’s home games at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. He was on the way to a basketball practice with his daughter when his helicopter went down.
Bryant’s playing career has been described as legendary, with five NBA championships under his belt. All were with the Lakers. As well, Bryant won two Olympic gold medals for the U.S. He was named 18 times to an all-star team and was the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2008. Off the court, he was a successful businessman and celebrity, and he dedicated both his time and money to charity. He was also a trainer and mentor to his basketball-playing daughter, Gianna.
Thoughts on Politics
Not known as politically outspoken, Bryant supported former President Barack Obama. In the run-up to the 2016 election, he refused to reveal publicly which way he intended to vote but implied that it would not surprise many people. “For those that support the opposite of what you believe my point of view – and if you know me for many years, I think you know what candidate I’m supporting – then God bless you, that’s your point of view,” he said shortly before the election.
The star was passionate, however, about young people obtaining the education to make informed decisions:
“We have a democratic system. You can vote and choose what you want to support and what you don’t want to support, but having the knowledge of understanding what you’re voting for is the most important thing.”
How Kobe Became Kobe
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant was the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He was the youngest of three children and named after the famous Japanese beef called “kobe,” but nicknamed Jellybean. Raised Roman Catholic, Bryant spent a number of years in Italy before returning to Philadelphia. He skipped college and went directly to the National Basketball Association where he quickly rose to be a star.