Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, opened up to PEOPLE in 2018 about how he used his opportunity to coach his daughters in basketball as an opportunity to teach them valuable life lessons.
“A valuable lesson that I can teach them is what it means to pursue excellence and the commitment level that comes with that,” Bryant said of being a coach. “At the same time, making things fun and challenging, and learning new things. But they’re having a blast. They’ve gotten extremely, extremely good over the course of the last year, and are continuing to work and get better, man. It’s been fun.”
Bryant shared daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months with wife Vanessa, 37. Their daughter Gianna, 13, was also killed in the plane crash along with her father, reps for the retired NBA legend told TMZ Sports.
Along with cheering his daughters on from the sidelines, Bryant also worked to inspire other children suffering from self-doubt or anxiety with the scripted podcast series, “The Punies,” which he launched in 2018. Each episode illustrated life lessons, including how to constructively respond to failure and work together as a team.
“You have these outside forces pulling you in different directions that distract from the fact that you just simply need to put the right foot in front of the left, the left in front of the right, and just keep on moving,” Bryant said. “The lead-up for all of these episodes is, despite the noise, the confusion, the inner monologue and outer distractions, it ultimately comes down to just placing one foot in front of the other.”
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Sunday morning, PEOPLE confirmed. He was 41.
Emergency personnel responded but no one on board survived. Five people are confirmed dead, TMZ reported. The outlet said his wife Vanessa was not on board.
Spokespersons for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office and LAPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.