The world continued to collectively mourn on Monday just one day after basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and a reported seven other victims were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Bryant, who frequently traveled by helicopter and is known to have kept a chartered craft at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, was 41 years old, and his daughter, Gianna, was 13. He leaves behind a wife, Vanessa, and three other daughters: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, seven months.
As public figures and those influenced by Bryant’s life continue to mourn the sudden loss, many are also wondering how this happened and who the seven other victims were. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear — passengers onboard were reportedly heading to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, which Bryant co-founded in 2018 and where Gianna was a player.
While nine people total are believed to have died in the crash, the families of two of the victims had still not been notified on Monday. The other victims include John Altobelli, the beloved and longest-tenured baseball coach of Orange Coast College, his wife Keri and their daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same club basketball team as Gianna. Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at the Harbor Day School, which Gianna attended as a student, was also reportedly killed in the crash, as was Bryant’s private pilot, Ara Zobayan. The two other reported victims include another 13-year-old and her mother, that were confirmed by police to be Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton on Monday.
Christina Mauser’s husband, Matt, went on the Today show Monday to discuss his family’s loss. “I got three small kids and I’m trying to figure out how to navigate life with three kids and no mom,” he said.
Although police are still investigating the exact circumstances that might have contributed to the crash, we now know that a thick fog had rolled into the Los Angeles area on Sunday morning, causing the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff’s department to ground all aircraft, the Associated Press reported. Despite this, Bryant’s helicopter still took flight on Sunday and ultimately caught fire before crashing. There were no survivors reported.
It came as quite a shock to the Los Angeles community, just hours ahead of the 62nd Grammy Awards on Sunday night, which was hosted at the Staples Center — the house that Bryant built his legacy in. During the awards musicians and other stars came together to grieve in the fallen athlete where Bryant has two jerseys hanging from the rafters. He was the only NBA player to ever receive such an honor.
It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli. He was a coach, a colleague, a mentor and a friend at OCC for 27 years.— Orange Coast College (@orangecoast) January 26, 2020
Read our full statement at https://t.co/ttTGWOZKnm pic.twitter.com/ch8ilLHHl4
Bryant, a 20-year veteran of the Lakers and an 18-time All-Star, leaves behind a devastated community of dedicated fans who say that he shaped the legacy of professional basketball for generations to come. And while it was hard to digest the tragic loss of nine, the Grammy awards used the opportunity to celebrate Bryant’s legacy through music.
Singer and songwriter Alicia Keys, who hosted the ceremony, began the night with a tribute to the late basketball legend. “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” Keys said. “Right now Kobe and his daughter Gianna and all those who have been tragically lost today are in our spirits our hearts, our prayers …We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this.”
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