US basketball star Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

UNTV News   •   January 27, 2020   •   744

Kobe Bryant reacts during the game between the British and US national basketball teams in the Manchester Arena, Manchester, Britain, on 18 July 2012 (reissued 26 January 2020). EFE/EPA/PETER POWELL/ARCHIVO

International Sports Desk, Jan 26 (efe-epa) — United States basketball icon Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles, the National Basketball Association confirmed.

Bryant, 41, was traveling in his private helicopter when it crashed and burst into flames at around 10am.

The basketball star’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, a talented player in her own right, was also killed, the NBA said.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that nine people were on board the aircraft, while emergency personnel dispatched to the scene confirmed that there were no survivors.

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

The former Los Angeles Lakers great regularly used his private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter to travel short distances.

Bryant and his wife Vanessa had four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and newborn Capri.

“There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW,” basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal tweeted.

Former US president Barack Obama tweeted: “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.”

“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me,” Michael Jordan said in a statement.

Bryant is considered to be one of the best NBA players of all time, playing on the All Star team 18 times during his 20-year career with the Lakers, retiring in 2016.

He was a first round draft pick in 1996 and won five NBA championship rings, two Most Valuable Player awards for the NBA final and was selected to be the league’s MVP in 2008.

The Lakers retired Bryant’s two jerseys – bearing numbers 8 and 24. He is the only player in the history of the LA team to have received that honor.

Bryant was born Aug. 23, 1978 in Philadelphia to Joe and Pamela Bryant, who named him Kobe after the type of high-quality beef they ate at a restaurant shortly before his birth.

His father played eight seasons in the NBA on such teams as the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and San Diego Clippers. After he retired, in 1984 the family moved to Italy – when Kobe was six – and lived there until 1991.

He attended high school in Philadelphia, where he was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the country. At graduation, he was selected as 13th NBA draft pick by the Charlotte Hornets and then traded to the Lakers.

In 1998, he was selected for the Western Conference All Star team, the youngest player at age 19 in the history of that competition.

With the Lakers under the coaching of Phil Jackson, along with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant – playing guard – was key in helping the team win three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002. He won his first All Star MVP award in 2002.

In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual abuse, although finally the alleged victim – a 20-year-old woman – decided not to testify in court and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Between 2003-2004, the Lakers underwent many changes, including the departures of O’Neal and Jackson, and Bryant became the leader of the newly constituted team, along with the top NBA scorer with 27.6 points per game, on average.

In 2004, however, the Lakers were unable to make it to the playoffs.

In 2005-2006, Jackson returned to coach the Lakers and Bryant broke the team scoring record with 81 points in a home game against the Toronto Raptors.

In 2006, Bryant decided to change his jersey number from 8 to 24 and two years later, when Spain’s Pau Gasol was already playing for the Lakers, he was chosen to be MVP for the season and the team got to the championship but lost to the Boston Celtics.

But the next two years, the team won titles, downing the Orlando Magic in 2009, with Bryant as MVP, and the Celtics in 2010, when he was selected MVP for the NBA finals for the second time.

With the departure for good of Jackson in 2010, the Lakers’ fortunes went downhill and Bryant said in January 2013 that the team was old and slow.

In April 2013, Bryant injured his Achilles tendon and was out until December, but just 10 days later he injured his left knee and was out for the rest of the season.

In January 2015, he suffered a right shoulder injury that effectively ended his career, putting him on the injured list for nine months after which time he announced his retirement.

Nevertheless, on April 23, 2016, he played his last game, scoring 60 points in the Lakers’ 101-96 defeat of the Utah Jazz, although the team had its worst season performance, with 17 wins and 65 losses.

Bryant also won two Olympic gold medals for the US basketball team, in 2008 in Beijing and in 2012 in London. EFE-EPA

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Vanessa Bryant: There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 30, 2020

The word ‘grief’ is not enough to describe the pain of losing a love one.

Vanessa Bryant expressed her devastation on Instagram after her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash on Sunday (January 26).

“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now,” she said.

There will be no words but only emptiness: in the shoes that will never set foot on the court, mugs that will never be filled during a beautiful Sunday morning, or family pictures that will never be the same.

Bryant also expressed her gratitude to the people who offered their support. She also asked everyone to grant them “the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”

“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them,” she said in her post.

View this post on Instagram

My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on

She also offered her condolences to the other victims of the crash and called on the public to support the other families affected by the tragedy.

“To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org.
To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org,” she said.—AAC

Authorities identify remains of Kobe Bryant, 3 others

Maris Federez   •   January 29, 2020

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner has announced that they have already identified the body of four of the nine passengers of the private helicopter that crashed into a Calabasas, California, hillside on Sunday, US Pacific time.

The Coroner said the four bodies recovered, including that of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, were officially identified through the use of fingerprints.

The other three bodies were that of Orange Coast College Basketball Coach John Altobelli, Sarah Chester – the mother of Payton Chester who was one of those who perished and Gianna Bryant’s teammate, and Ara Zobayan, the pilot.

Investigators are still working on identifying the five remaining bodies.

Initially, three of the nine fatalities were recovered on Sunday, while the other six were retrieved on Monday.

The Coroner’s office said they will immediately announce the names of the other five once they have confirmed their identities and have their respective families informed.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said investigation is still underway as to the cause of the crash of Bryant’s private Sikorsky S-76.

The investigators have flown drone over the crash site to secure needed videos. They have also gathered the debris of the chopper.

“We also worked with drones today, to document the scene and then we duplicated part of the flight path. So, we flew part of the end part of the flight path with our drones using ADSB data,” said NTSB member Jennifer Homendy.

Homendy said the chopper didn’t have flight data or cockpit voice recorder as it is not a requirement on the model of LA Lakers superstar’s chopper to have a black box.

However, the investigators were able to make use of the pilot’s ipad that was recovered at the crash site as he was using the foreflight app installed in it.

The app was a big help to the investigators in reviewing the flight plan and the other circumstances surrounding the accident.

“We were able to recover an iPad and a cell phone. We do not know if that’s the pilot’s iPad so we are going to take those personal electronic devices, we are going to send them back to our lab at headquarters for further analysis,” Homendy said.

Homendy further said that the preliminary information suggests that the chopper descended rapidly and crashed with a “high energy impact”.

“We know that the helicopter was at 2300 ft (700 meters) when it lost communication with air traffic control. The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 ft (600 meters) a minute, so, we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” Homendy added. — (with details from Bernard Dadis) /mbmf

Kobe Bryant helicopter involved in ‘high energy impact’ crash, says NTSB

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2020

Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Investigators said on Tuesday (January 28) that the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant was involved in a “high energy impact crash” when it slammed into a hillside in foggy weather on Sunday, killing the basketball star and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter.

“We know that the helicopter was at 2300 ft (700 meters) when it lost communication with air traffic control. The descent rate for the helicopter was over 2,000 ft (600 meters) a minute, so, we know that this was a high energy impact crash,” Jennifer Homendy, of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

As the helicopter crash probe entered its second full day in the foothills just outside Calabasas, about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the NTSB investigators combed through the wreckage and used drones as they sought uncover the cause of the accident.

“We were able to recover an iPad and a cell phone. We do not know if that’s the pilot’s iPad so we are going to take those personal electronic devices, we are going to send them back to our lab at headquarters for further analysis,” said Homendy.

“We also worked with drones today, to document the scene and then we duplicated part of the flight path. So, we flew part of the end part of the flight path with our drones using ADSB data,” she added.

Low clouds, fog and limited visibility over the region at the time of the crash have emerged as a prominent focus of the investigation. (Reuters)

(Production: Omar Younis)

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