Cape Town – Tributes have come pouring in after the tragic death of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
The former NBA player was on his way to a youth basketball game with his daughter when their helicopter crashed, reports ESPN. The accident that happened in Calabasas, California, claimed nine lives.
While the 2020 Grammy Awards took place on Sunday 26 January at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Lakers fans gathered outside the stadium to mourn the loss of a legend. Celebs including Shaquille O'Neal and Kim Kardashian West lead tributes.
"This has affected us all so much, but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and her baby girl," Kim wrote on Instagram.
According to People, a source has revealed the couple, who were married for 19 years and share four children, promised never to travel together, presumably for the sake of their girls.
"He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together," the insider said. The source added that the 41-year-old "only" flew helicopters with pilot Ara Zobayan, another victim in the crash, while the star previously revealed his intention for flying to get around Los Angeles.
Speaking to Alex Rodriguez and Dan Katz on their The Corp With A-Rod and Big Cat podcast, Kobe recalled, "I was sitting in traffic, and I wound up missing like a school play. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time."
The Lakers alum said, "That's when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes."
While the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is still investigating the accident, it's been revealed that, though the pilot had received clearance to fly, there was dense fog on the day that likely resulted in the crash.
According to E! News, Kobe and Gianna had just attended church and were on their way to his Mamba Academy in the Thousand Oaks area. Gianna – who was set to follow in her dad's footsteps – was set to play in the Mamba Cup tournament that day.
Kobe reportedly filed a trademark for his daughter's nickname in December. "Mambacita" is a played on his own title "The Black Mamba".
Vanessa Bryant, who welcomed another baby girl with Kobe last year, has yet to comment on the news.
Just weeks ago, Kobe shared a sweet throwback to his wife on the anniversary of the day they met.
"On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my queen," he said. "I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre four princesses).
"I love you my mamacita per sempre."