Kobe Bryant Dies at 41: NBA Legend, Father, Longtime Swimming Fan

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died at age 41. The news was first reported by TMZ and has been confirmed by multiple media outlets. Bryant was a close friend (and business adviser) to Michael Phelps and made several appearances at major swimming events, including at the 2017 Golden Goggles Awards, USA Swimming’s annual awards banquet, and the 2018 US National Championships in Irvine. Five people are confirmed dead in the crash.

Update: the LA Sheriff’s department announced that there were nine people in the helicopter, not the originally-reported five. None of the passengers or the pilot survived.  

LIVE: Press Conference with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department:

Update: TMZ is also now reporting that representatives for Kobe have confirmed that one of his 4 daughters, Gianna Maria Onore, aka GiGi, was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash. She was 13. Kobe recently credited GiGi’s interest in the game as bringing him back to the sport of basketball. The pair were on the way to a basketball practice at the Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks when the helicopter crashed.

Bryant has had several interludes with the sport of swimming. He once made a visit to Australia where he spent time with Stephanie Rice and members of the Australian Olympic Team. He once famously lauded 3-time Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice, saying “I was lucky…I had the chance to see the best in the world prepare and she is FOCUSED.”

Bryant was a 5-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, the 2008 NBA MVP, an 18-time NBA All-Star, and is the 4th-leading scorer in NBA history, recently being surpassed by Lebron James. Bryant was also a two-time Olympic gold medalist as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team in 2008 and 2012. He also won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film Dear Basketball.

The 41-year old Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016. He and his wife, Vanessa, gave birth to their 4th daughter in June of 2019.

Kobe Bryant made an appearance at the 2018 US Nationals alongside Michael Phelps. Courtesy of Torrey Hart/SwimSwam.com

Several swimmers have already posted tributes on social media, with more to come throughout the day. In France, the public is drawing comparisons to several French sportspeople who have died in helicopter crashes, including Olympic swimmer Camille Muffat, who won gold, silver, and bronze medals at the 2012 Olympic Games. She died in a helicopter crash while filming a reality television show. Also on board that flight were boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7zHs5mpgGj/

 

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Sara
1 year ago

RIP!

Sara
1 year ago

I LOVED GIA!!

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Great tribute at Grammys by the unique Alicia Keys.

megan
2 years ago

RIP Kobe!! Prayers for the surviving family for losing a husband, father, daughter and sister.

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

A harsh reminder that life hangs by a thread and that everyday we must tell people we love that we love them.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

every day

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

every day becomes like a controlling habit to me there ….but why not

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Kobe was not my favorite player but I respect a lot the basketball legend he is and the inspiration he gave to so many people through his work ethic and his passion. He was also very supportive of the women’s game which is appreciable.
I’ve grown up watching him play. Damn, that news really hurts. And his daughter has died too. Tragic. My thoughts go to Kobe’s family and to the families of other people’s died in the crash.

Boknows34
2 years ago

Such a terrible tragedy. I’m lucky to have had a ticket to watch him and the rest of the USA team win the gold medal game at the London 2012 Olympics. I remember Kobe, Dwayne Wade and a few other of the NBA superstars were regulars at the pool to watch and support Michael Phelps and the rest of the US team.

Jeff
2 years ago

I think the worst part is knowing that this could have been avoided and he could still have been with us today.

Timekeeper
Reply to  Jeff
2 years ago

Avoided how? By traveling in a car which statistically is way more dangerous?

Yozhik
Reply to  Timekeeper
2 years ago

When a car gets suddenly broken there is still a chance to survive. When it happens to aircraft the chances are extremely slim. I think that’s what Jeff meant. Or may he refers to premature death of 41 years old man. It doesn’t matter. I think such are the feelings of a woman who lost in one moment husband and daughter. I hope she doesn’t blame herself that she could done something to avoid this tragedy.

2 Cents
Reply to  Timekeeper
2 years ago

Maybe they meant that they could have driven. This was him and his daughter and a few others going to a basketball game. Maybe they typically would have driven to the game, but because of the Grammy Awards being in LA, that traffic was worse than normal or certain roads were blocked off for the limo/red carpet aspect of it, so they decided to take a helicopter to not risk being late.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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