NBA star Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna Bryant died with her dad in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, according to TMZ Sports. Gianna was a teenage basketball player who aspired to be in the WNBA. Her dad once said she most wanted to keep his legacy alive.
The entertainment site broke the news and reported the tragic detail that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash. The site attributed the information about Kobe’s daughter to his reps.
The pilot in the crash has been identified as Ara Zobayan. He was killed along with one of Gianna’s coaches, Christina Mauser, and one of her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli. Altobelli’s parents, John and Keri, also died. Two other passengers have not been identified.
TMZ further reported that Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, wasn’t onboard the aircraft. The cause of the crash is not yet clear. No one survived the fatal crash.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kobe & His Daughter Were Heading to Basketball Practice at a Local Academy; He Was Her Coach
According to TMZ, Bryant and his daughter were heading to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice in Thousand Oaks. ESPN reported the father and daughter were going to a “travel basketball game.”
Kobe spoke to SLAM about coaching Gianna, who was known as Gigi. The site reported in March 2019 that Gianna and her AAU team “practice under his tutelage five times a week.”
This is how SLAM described one of Bryant’s coaching sessions with Gigi and the other girls: “They focused on their ability to finish around the rim, plus footwork and handles. At least twice, Bryant stopped everything and provided the entire team with a Detail-level lesson on ball movement and spacing.”
2. Gianna Bryant Was a Talented Basketball Player Who Wanted to Carry on Kobe’s Tradition, Perhaps to the WNBA
Like her dad, Gianna was a talented basketball player. In May, Bckonline reported that Kobe was coaching his daughter’s basketball team.
Kobe movingly and now heartbreakingly talked about how Gianna was poised to carry on his legacy saying, “I got this,” when people said it was too bad Kobe didn’t have a boy to do so:
In the video, Jimmy Kimmel asks: “You think your daughter might want to play in the WNBA?”
Kobe, beaming with pride, responded, “She does for sure. This kid, man.”
“Wouldn’t that be great?” Kimmel said.
“Dude, man, I’ll tell you. The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans will come up to me, and she will be standing next to me, and they will be like, ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy, you and Vi gotta have a boy, man, someone to carry on the tradition and the legacy,’ and she goes, ‘I got this.'”
Kobe then continued, “Yes, that’s right. Yes, you do, you got this.”
To SLAM, Kobe said: “The girls are making incredible progress. Just wait until you see us in six years. I have a year-by-year plan for them. We are going to keep adding pieces on a schedule I’ve already mapped out.”
A highlight video, which you can see above, was shared on Twitter. The site reported: “She owns the court just like her father!”
3. Kobe Was With 8 Other People on the Chopper
According to TMZ Sports, the aircraft was a private helicopter and eight other passengers were on board with Kobe. All nine died.
The news about Gianna was also confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He wrote on Twitter, “Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.”
4. Gianna Was One of Kobe’s Four Children With Wife Vanessa
Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa Bryant had four children together. In June 2019, Kobe announced the birth of their fourth daughter, Capri Kobe.
They had three other daughters: Gianna, Natalia Diamante and Bianka Bella. Natalia, the oldest, is 17. You can learn more about all of Kobe’s kids here.
Kobe recently told Ellen DeGeneres that he hoped for another child with Vanessa, saying, “I would go for a solid starting five and just have your own internal basketball team.”
5. Gianna Was Born Six Minutes Before Shaquille O’Neal’s Child
According to a 2006 report by Contact Music, Gianna was born just six minutes before the sixth child of Kobe’s fellow basketball star Shaquille O’Neal and his wife, Shaunie.
Me’arah Sanaa O’Neal “was born in Florida, California just six minutes after Shaq’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant became a second-time father in Orange County, California. Bryant’s wife Vanessa gave birth to baby daughter GIANNA MARIA-ONORE at 2am,” the site reported.