UPDATE: A statement issued on behalf of the Bryant family states that no one has been authorities to speak for the family at this time. The statement read, in part, “We are disappointed in some media’s broad use of unnamed sources and blind quotes, and remind everyone that the Bryant family will speak on our own behalf when appropriate. To this point, no one has been authorized to speak on behalf of the family regarding any personal details surrounding Sunday’s tragedy, including stories related to the family’s previous air travel decisions.”
Taking a helicopter from point A to point B was something NBA legend Kobe Bryant did semi-regularly. In a past interview, Bryant explained that he started using a helicopter as a form of transportation when he was playing for the LA Lakers.
While talking with Barstool Sports and fellow legend Alex Rodriguez, Bryant explained that during his 20 years playing with the Laker, he became a father. And the time he would spend in traffic traveling to and from practice and games started cutting into the time he had with his daughters.
“Traffic started getting really, really bad. And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play because I was sitting in traffic. […] I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time.”
And that’s when he started looking into helicopters as a way to avoid that time in traffic, which ultimately meant more time with his children, 17-year-old Natalia, 13-year-old Gianna, 3-year-old Bianka, and 7-month-old Capri. Particularly it meant that he wouldn’t have to give up picking his girls up from school, something he wanted to be able to do.
“So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started. […] Every chance I get to see them, to spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car.”
Reports Say Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Allegedly Vowed to Never Fly on Helicopter Together
However, after acquiring a helicopter and using it to get to places quicker, Bryant and his wife of 19 years Vanessa reportedly made a pact. As a source close to the family told People, Vanessa and Kobe would never fly on the helicopter together.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together.”
Instagram influencer and mom of one Brittany Xavier took to her Instagram stories in response to Vanessa and Kobe’s deal. As Xavier pointed out, “This is a good reminder to have life insurance, and a will for your family set up in case of a tragedy. Especially if you have kids.”
On January 26, Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The group was heading to a basketball game. A game Gianna, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester were supposed to play in and Bryant and Christina Mauser were supposed to coach.
The other victims have been identified as Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli, Payton’s mom Sarah Chester, and the pilot Ara Zobayan. According to the same source, People reports that Bryant only ever flew in helicopters piloted by Zobayan.
Bryant may have been known for being one of the best to ever play the game of basketball, but the accomplishment he was most proud of was being a father. In November, he said during an interview with Maria Shriver, “Being a father is the thing I am most proud of in this world; it’s my greatest accomplishment.”
He continued, “I’ve learned so much, but perhaps the most profound thing has been the fierce, unconditional love you have for your children when you become a parent. I’m blessed to have had that experience four times now and there’s nothing more powerful in this world.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.