On January 26th of last year, the world mourned the unexpected death of basketball star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash along with eight others— including his thirteen-year-old daughter. He was 41 years old.
The tragic accident dealt a devastating blow to the sports world. Bryant, who had spent his entire 20-year career in the NBA playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, was considered one of the greatest players of all time. Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, was an 18-time all-star, and had spent more time playing for a team in Los Angeles than any other player in any other professional sport— according to the Ringer.
In the wake of his death, thousands of stunned fans gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in mourning. Some laid out flowers, others cried together and talked candidly about how much the basketball star meant to them. For many, Bryant became emblematic of the city of LA. “He meant a lot. He was an icon to the city— a legend now.” Stated Lakers fan Oscar Martinez in an interview with NBC News during the mourning ceremony last year. “He brought a lot of people together.”
Kobe Bryant was survived by his wife: Vanessa Bryant, as well as three of his daughters: Natalia, Bianka, and Capri— who was only seven months old at the time of the crash. Unfortunately, his daughter Gianna ‘Gigi’ was killed in the crash. Kobe was first and foremost a family man. He was a proud father who had a special bond with his daughters, particularly Gigi, who was an avid basketball player and aspired to play in the WNBA someday. Baseball star Derek Jeter described Kobe Bryant as a family man in a tribute to his late friend following the tragedy. “All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had— they were always about family.”
In the wake of his death, there were numerous tributes to the sports superstar— both on the court and off the court. During the 2020 Oscars, which took place only a couple of weeks after the tragedy, many celebrities paid their respect, including Hollywood director Spike Lee— who donned the LA Laker’s colors during the red carpet event. During the Super Bowl, both the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chief observed a moment of silence before beginning the game. Both teams stood on the 24-yard-lines to commemorate Kobe’s jersey number, according to cnet.com.
Since the death of her husband and daughter, Vanessa Bryant has been candid about the grief that she has experienced. She has also made sure to pay tribute to her loved ones on their birthdays and anniversaries. She also celebrated when the LA Lakers won the 2020 championship in October of that year. “Congratulations Uncle P! Congratulations @Lakers Kobe was right RP ‘stay the course- block out the noise’ – @kobebryant.” She wrote in a social media post before stating: “Wish Kobe and Gianna were here to see this.”