Basketball fans are mourning the death of former Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant. TMZ Sports reported that Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and three others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
According to the New York Post, the Bryants were riding a helicopter to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California for Gianna’s basketball practice. Gianna was an emerging basketball star and was nicknamed “Mambacita” by her father. In 2016, Bryant started coaching his daughter’s middle school team, noting that Gianna is “pretty easy to coach.”
In a 2018 “Jimmy Kimmel Live” interview, Bryant said Gianna wanted to play for the WNBA. “The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she’ll be standing next to me. They’ll be like, “You and [Vanessa Bryant] gotta have a boy, have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy. [Gianna’s] like, ‘Oh, I got this!'”
Both father and daughter were often seen watching courtside at NBA games. One clip where they were breaking down a game recently became viral on Twitter.
I'm so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe
My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through. Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.