From Lower Merion prodigy to NBA superstar; memorial set for Kobe Bryant and crash victims on Feb 24



Kobe Bryant, retired NBA player and former Laker legend, and his second-oldest daughter Gianna were among nine people killed on Sunday, January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

The helicopter departed John Wayne Airport at 9:06am on Sunday, where it had passed over Boyle Heights, near Dodger Stadium, and circled the Glendale community just moments before the crash.

At approximately 9:47am, the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter carrying Bryant and his entourage crashed about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant's basketball training complex in Thousand Oaks.

Bryant was 41 years old and had been retired from the NBA since the 2015-2016 season. He lived just south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County and often used helicopters to save time and avoid traffic.

He often traveled to practices and games by helicopter and continued this pattern well after retirement to attend business ventures.

He had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa and had dedicated himself to boosting women's sports in recent years as he focused on coaching and mentoring his daughter Gianna and her basketball team. The morning of the crash, Bryant and fellow passengers aboard the flight were en route to an afternoon basketball game being held at the Mamba Sports Academy.

Kobe Bryant leaves behind an unforgettable legacy as he has been one of the most forward-thinking superstars of the NBA. Ironically, just a day earlier, his name dominated headlines as LeBron James passed Bryant's career point total of 33,643 points to move into third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. In response to this moment, he shared congratulatory remarks via his Instagram and Twitter accounts to LeBron James, which became his final post and tweet following the news of his death.

News of Kobe Bryant's death traveled quickly as the nation mourned and paid tribute to the NBA legend. Celebrities took to Twitter to express their condolences and concerns about Bryant's untimely death.

The NFL Pro Bowl held a moment of silence and tribute in honor of the Laker basketball legend that led to "Kobe" chants from the crowd.

A moment of silence was held before the Toronto Raptors game against the San Antonio Spurs. Both teams let the 24-second shot clock run out at the start of their game to honor Bryant. This trend followed around the NBA as teams also began holding the ball backcourt for an 8-second violation to also honor Kobe Bryant.

The following night at the Grammy Awards saw many recipients pay tribute to the former Lakers superstar as it was held at the Staples Center Arena, where he played. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the venue to mourn his death as makeshift memorials appeared all throughout the world.

A public memorial has been set for 10 a.m. on February 24 to honor Kobe Bryant, his daughter and all seven passengers that died in the crash. The significance of the date was chosen by Bryant's wife in honor of No. 2 worn by Gianna, No. 24 worn by Kobe and 20 as representation of the years he spent playing for the Lakers.

Lower Merion's Prodigal Son

Born on August 23, 1978 to Pamela and Joe Bryant, Kobe grew up