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NBA Legend Kobe Bryant And Daughter Gianna Die In Helicopter Crash

Many fans spent the early part of their Sunday hoping, wishing, and praying what they saw on social media was fake news. After receiving confirmation from reliable media outlets, fans had to deal with the harsh reality that NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. The initial details of the tragic incident were sketchy. As more information was confirmed, the story became even more heartbreaking. The Bryant family lost not one but two family members as Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of the nine people on board the aircraft.
At the time of the crash, Bryant and his daughter were on their way to Gianna’s youth basketball game. Law enforcement officials speculate the dense fog conditions played a role in the accident. Flight tracker data revealed the chopper circled the L.A. Zoo in Burbank several times at a low altitude. This is the point where law enforcement estimates the 12-passenger aircraft encountered its first sign of trouble. The Sikorsky S-76 departed the John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9:06 a.m. PT. The first 911 call reporting the crash was received at 9:47 a.m.
Kobe Bryant was a true student of the game. His father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played in the NBA for eight years. The elder Bryant transitioned from the NBA to a Professional Basketball League in Italy. Jellybean Bryant played professionally in Italy from 1984-1992. As a youth in Italy Kobe’s grandfather would send him tapes of NBA games. Kobe would study the tapes thoroughly. When he returned to the United States, Kobe Bryant became a basketball phenom at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By his senior year of high school, Bryant was recognized as the top basketball player in the country. As a result of his status, he elected to forgo college and enter the NBA Draft. Prior to leaving for the NBA, Bryant was formally introduced to the world in May 1996 when he attended his senior prom with his date R&B singer Brandy.
With the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets picked Kobe Bryant. Later that day Charlotte would trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The then 18-year-old prodigy came off the bench and showed glimpses of brilliance. He and center Shaquille O’Neal seemed to be a formidable combination. Bryant’s rookie season turned from promising to disastrous in  Game 5 of the 1997 playoffs versus the Utah Jazz. With ten seconds left in the game, Bryant dribbled the ball up the court and took what would have been the game-winning shot. He missed the rim and the backboard as he shot an air ball. The game went to overtime where Bryant would shoot four additional air balls in critical moments of the game. The Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs as a devastated Kobe Bryant walked off the court.
The playoff experience against Utah became his motivation as Bryant improved his game year after year. His basketball skills and IQ reached its peak in 2000 when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal helped the Los Angeles Lakers reach the NBA Finals. The dynamic duo would go on to form a dynasty as they won the championship three times in a row. Egos clashed after the 3-peat as Shaq and Kobe were at odds. The Lakers chose to stick with the younger guy, as Shaq’s days as a Laker came to an end. He would move on to play with Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.
Kobe Bryant faced his next basketball challenge which was to win a championship without Shaq. Bryant was a spectator in 2006 as he watched Shaq team up with Dwayne Wade to win a championship for the Miami Heat. Once again Kobe was provided with motivation. At the start of the 2006-2007 season, Bryant changed his number from 8 to 24 to symbolize a fresh start. The new chapter was a refreshing one as Bryant would lead the Los Angeles Lakers to back to back championships. He also added Olympic medals to his trophy case as he won gold in 2008 at the Beijing Games and repeated the accomplishment in 2012 at the London Games. Bryant wrapped up a brilliant 20-year NBA career in 2016 with a 60 point performance versus the Utah Jazz. His resume consisted of 5 NBA titles, 2 NBA Finals MVP’s, and a long list of other legendary accomplishments.
After retiring from the sport they play, many athletes struggle with the transition. Kobe Bryant was setting up life after basketball in an extraordinary fashion. The way he was aligning things you could see Act Two was going to be just as good or better than Act One. Bryant founded Granity Studios, a multimedia company. He would go on to win an Oscar for his short film “Dear Basketball.” The film was based on a poem Bryant wrote that was published in The Players Tribune in 2015. Bryant co-founded a venture capital firm named Bryant Stibel. The firm has investments in technology, media, and data companies. He also invested in a sports drink, and opened up two training facilities named “Mamba Sports Academy” in Thousand Oak and Redondo Beach.
Bryant’s daughter Gianna is responsible for directing her father back to basketball. After retiring, Kobe lost interest in the game. His interest was rekindled as he watched basketball games at home, and attended Laker games with his daughter. Eventually, Bryant started coaching and being involved in Gianna’s basketball games. She was being groomed to be a future WNBA star.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a basketball player, he was a global icon. People all around the world felt the loss of this incredible human being. The Grammy’s which ironically were held at the Staples Center started their show with a tribute to Kobe Bryant. He was a well-rounded individual who was a family man, great athlete,  spoke multiple languages, and had incredible business savvy. The death of Kobe and his daughter are even more devastating considering the fact she was on her way to a promising basketball career, and he was laying the foundation for his career as an entrepreneur. People spanning around the globe have sent prayers out for Kobe, Gianna, and the other seven victims who perished in the crash.
Kobe Bryant was the last of the throwbacks. He played in the Jordan and LeBron era. Sometimes his greatness gets lost in between the two, but he definitely belongs in the G.O.A.T conversation. On Saturday, January 26th, the world lost an all-time great. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. Family man, NBA Legend, and entrepreneur Kobe Bryant dead at 41. Rest in Peace Mamba.

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