KOBE Bryant and his daughter Gianna were pictured a day before their fatal helicopter accident at a youth basketball session.
The pair were seen as proud father Kobe, 41, watched while Gianna, 13, played at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, on Saturday.
Gianna’s Mamba team played two eight grade girls games that day, and her father could be seen watching from the sidelines before heading onto the court to give advice to a team he often coached.
The teenager had expressed her love of the game in the past, and it was Gianna’s aspiration to one day play in the WNBA.
Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, along with seven others.
The crash also claimed the lives of college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; and one of the coaches at Kobe’s youth academy, Christina Mauser.
Kobe’s helicopter took off from Long Beach at 8:29 a.m PST on Sunday, then touched down again just eight minutes later in Orange County.
The helicopter then took off again 30 minutes later at 9:06 a.m. PST but never reached its final destination.
It was just 20 minutes into the flight when the plane began to circle in Burbank while speaking with flight control.
The pilot was then told to try and follow the freeways to the aircraft’s final destination of Camarillo.
This plan initially proved to be successful, with the helicopter making it north and then turning west towards Camarillo when it suddenly began to encounter problem in Calabasas.
Records show that at this point, the helicopter, which had stayed below 1000 feet for most of the trip, began to ascend as it approached the Santa Monica Mountains.
The plane was at 1750 feet and travelling at a speed of 161 knots when it crashed ataround 9:47 am PST, killing all on board.
An investigation is currently underway and is being spearheaded by the LA County Sheriff’s Office and the National Safety and Transportation Board.
Press conferences were given at 2 pm PST and later 8 pm PST with updates, but officials were able to provide little information pending further investigation.
It was noted however that the terrain in the area of the crash is so treacherous that it will take officials a week before recovery efforts are complete.
Bryant shared an extremely close bond with his daughter and was often seen coaching her club team.
The NBA star would regularly take Gianna and her teammates to watch professional basketball games, where he’d talk them through certain plays and situations.
In a 2019 interview with the LA Times, Bryant said Gianna was “hell-bent” on playing for the dynastic University of Connecticut women’s team.
Responding to Bryant’s claims, Derek Fisher, who won five championships with Bryant and is the coach of the WNBA’s LA Sparks, said the Black Mamba and his daughter “have similar demeanor and personality.”
The fatal crash came one day after LeBron James passed Bryant to reach third place in the NBA’s all-time scoring charts.
Late Saturday night, Bryant congratulated James on Twitter for “continuing to move the game forward.”
Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career for the Lakers, and during that time he racked up 33,643 points, claimed five championships, and was selected as an NBA All-Star 18 times.
After TMZ broke the news of the accident, tributes from all sectors began to flood Twitter.
President Trump called the reports of Bryant’s death “terrible news.”
A “shocked” Michael Jordan lamented the passing of his “little brother” and the “amazing dad.”
Former teammate and Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal was “sick” and speechless over the loss of his “niece” and “brother.”
Former US President Barack Obama mourned the “heartbreaking” loss of the NBA great and his teenage daughter.