RIP. Kobe Bryant, his second oldest daughter, Gianna Marie-Onore, 13, and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli were among the nine victims who died on Sunday, January 26, after a private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, according to multiple reports. TMZ was the first to report the news.
It was later confirmed that John’s wife, Keri Altobelli, and his daughter, Alyssa Altobelli, were also on the helicopter and they perished as well in the crash, according to multiple reports. Christina Mauser, who was an assistant coach of Kobe’s Mamba Academy girls’ basketball team, also passed away in the crash. She is survived by her husband, Matt Mauser, and their children. Mother Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton Chester, were on also on board the helicopter and passed away. The helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, passed away as well, the L.A. Times reported.
According to the outlet, after a fire broke out, emergency services rush to the aircraft, but they were already found dead. The nine people were reportedly on their way to the Mamba Academy, founded by Kobe, in Thousand Oaks before the crash. The basketball legend — who passed away at just 41 years old — leaves behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three daughters, Natalia Diamante, 17, Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri Kobe, 7 months. Vanessa, 37, has made her Instagram page private since the incident.
Following the sad news, celebrities immediately took to social media to share their thoughts and prayers with the world. Kris Jenner wrote, “Devastated by the news of losing our precious Kobe Bryant. Words cannot express our sadness. All my deepest love and prayers are with Vanessa and Kobe’s family at this time,” while Justin Bieber echoed, “It can’t be. You always encouraged me, mamba. Gave me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day! Love you, man!” Dwyane Wade added, “Noooooooooo God please, no!”
The athlete — who was on the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years — started his career in 1995 and was drafted into the NBA right after high school. The dad of four won five NBA championships and was given an MVP award in 2008.
One night before Kobe’s death, LeBron James passed him on the NBA scoring list and got candid about the Philadelphia native’s legacy. “He had zero flaws offensively,” LeBron recalled while speaking with ESPN. “That is something I admired as well. It was a dream come true for me to be able to line up alongside of him. I admired him for so many years — seeing him from afar and then being able to be at practices with him and me watching and learning. I’m happy to just be in any conversation with Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant — one of the all-time greatest Lakers. The man has two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”
In response, Bryant wrote on Twitter, “Continuing to move the game forward, @KingJames. Much respect my brother. #33644.”
Our hearts go out to the Bryant family and friends during this tough time.
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