You have definitely heard the news that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA today, and if you’re like me, you heard the news at the farmers market in Hollywood when one of the vendors screamed, “Kobe has died!,” and when everyone looked at him as three shades of WTF covered their faces while they tried to process what he was saying, he screamed, “Kobe Bryant has died!” The news pretty much made time in Los Angeles stand still.
TMZ was first to report that Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41. And forty million layers of sad were added to the story when his rep confirmed that his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore, known as GiGi, also died in the crash.
Kobe, Gianna, and at least three other people were on board his private helicopter, which he regularly travels on, when it crashed in Calabasas. There were no survivors. Sources tell ESPN that also onboard were one of Gianna’s teenage teammates and their parent. (UPDATE: Officials say that nine people were on board including the pilot. No one survived.) The helicopter was headed to Thousand Oaks, CA for a basketball practice at his Mumba Academy. Witnesses heard the helicopter sputtering before it went down.
Fans of the Lakers are outside of the Staples Center where they’re mourning his death and setting up a memorial. The Grammys are supposed to happen at the Staples Center tonight, and some are calling for it to be postponed.
— LAT Entertainment (@latimesent) January 26, 2020
Even someone like me who knows as much about proper grammar as basketball has known who Kobe Bryant was since the beginning of his career. Kobe has played with the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, winning 5 NBA championships. He also played for Team USA in several Olympics. And in 2018, he won an Oscar for the short Dear Basketball.
Kobe’s Oscar win brought on a wave of side-eyes since it came during the #MeToo era, and in 2003, he was charged with sexual assault in Colorado. Kobe denied it and the charges were dropped after his accuser refused to testify in court. His accuser later filed a civil suit, which was settled. Kobe publicly apologized to his accuser for his “behavior that night” and for the “consequences” she has suffered.
Kobe married 37-year-old Vanessa Laine Bryant in 2001. Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011, but in 2013, she announced on Instagram that they were back together. Vanessa gave birth to their fourth daughter, Capri Kobe Bryant, just this past summer.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by Vanessa, Capri, and his other two daughters with Vanessa, 17-year-old and Natalia and 3-year-old Bianka.