In Memoriam

Los Angeles Grieves for Kobe & His Daughter: He Was Ours & We Were His

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

At first, we only knew there’d been a crash, but not what it meant.

Eight passengers and the pilot of a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter were killed on Sunday morning, January 26, when the ‘copter crashed into a hillside near Las Virgines Road and Willow Glenn Street in Calabasas, a little before 10:00 a.m.  It was foggy at the time, but still, the crash was violent enough that it started a brush fire on the hill.

Richard Winton, an investigative crime writer for the LA Times who has been on two Pulitzer-winning teams, broke the news of the crash because he heard the explosive noises from his home, and so ran outside and started reporting.

It took a while for the really bad news to begin filtering out:  One of those on board might be LA’s basketball legend, Kobe Bryant.

Kobe.  The Black Mamba.  No.  Surely not Kobe.

Soon, the information was far worse:   Yes, Kobe Bryant, 41, was on the plane, and he was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.  Kobe was the father of four daughters to whom he was devoted, Natalia, Gianna, Bianca, and Capri.  But it was Gianna who hoped to pick up her dad’s basketball torch.

And there was at least one other girl on the plane too.  They were on their way to a tournament game for kids in which Gianna would play and Kobe would coach.

(Among a list of other things he was doing after his two decades with the Lakers, Bryant was a strong advocate for girls and women in sports.)

When Kobe came to us, he was still a teenager, just barely out of high school, yet he was already a singular talent, stupendously skilled, with startlingly mature intimations of the breath-stopping ferocity he would later bring to the game.

He gave the Lakers all two decades of his gorgeous, joy-spangled, sometimes injury-plagued career, bringing with him five world championships, changing his jersey number from 8 to 24 partway through those twenty years, when he felt that 24 was the number that would better symbolize the new phase of his playing (making him the only player in NBA history to have two numbers retired on his behalf by the same team).

In return, Los Angeles gave him its devotion. He was ours and we were his.

Bryant’s life included darker and more difficult periods, along with the beauty and the inspiration that his talent and his nearly super-human determination brought with it, making him one of the best players in the history of the game.

(The portrait of Kobe written by the LA Times’ Thomas Curwen and David Wharton captures the superstar’s various dark and light facets well. Sports columnist Bill Plaschke’s wail of grief in column form also feels like necessary reading.)

“Kobe will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted when he announced that LA’s CityHall would be turned purple and gold to honor Kobe and Gianna.

Well, yes.  Even the Lakers’ LeBron James, when he surpassed Bryant’s third-highest scoring record just this past Saturday, the night before the crash, did so with respect, and love, really, wearing Mamba 4 life, 8/24 painted on the side of one of the sneakers he wore as he made the scores that brought him to 33,644 points as a lifetime record, two points more than Kobe’s record.

“@KingJames,” Kobe tweeted on Saturday night after the game. “Continuing to move the game forward. Much respect my brother #33644.”

It was Kobe’s last tweet.

Kobe Bryant leaves behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and their three daughters.

Our thoughts are with them now, and with the families of the pilot and the other six passengers who died with Kobe and Gianna. Among them were much beloved Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, and his daughter, Alyssa who was a teammate of Gianna’s. Also, onboard was mother and daughter, Sarah and Payton Chester, another team member and proud parent. Christina Mauser, also on the plane, was the top assistant coach of the Mamba girls’ basketball team. Ara Zobayan, Kobe’s private pilot, was in the cockpit.

Purple and gold LA City Hall for Kobe/via @MayorOfLA;  portrait of Kobe, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

30 Comments

  • Celeste, I’m fairly certain you were/are a supporter of the “#me too” movement, so I find your gushing tribute to Bryant a little disingenuous.

    “Bryant’s life included darker and more difficult moments…” Really? The details of what happened in Colorado all those years ago are hard to read:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant_sexual_assault_case

    Consensual? Maybe, at first…but the bruises on her neck and the blood suggest maybe she did actually tell him to stop.

    It’s horrible that people lost their lives and there’s no doubt Bryant was a phenomenal basketball player, but this piece seems like you’re pandering to to those who would make him Saint Bryant.

    • You’re that first guy that knows everything about everyone, Trump, Kobe, Villanueva, Celeste…

      Riddle me this, when will the world end?

    • How about we talk about current events… like the fact that Deputies are circulating Bryant’s dead body on their cell phones… and let me tell you those deputies involved have been under investigation for worse things… maybe I should report this to TMZ?

      LASD is rehiring criminals and the new recruits are being picked out of a Happy Meal

  • I think Celeste is one of the few journalists that had alluded to that time and that she did so in a classy manner. Bryant claimed that this was consensual and acknowledged some sexual practices that I will omit. The “victim” lied to detectives multiple times and ultimately refused to prosecute. He apologized to her and to his wife and of course the inevitable civil lawsuit occurred, which he also paid.

    Now speaking of disingenuous, let’s talk about all the cops that cheat on their wives/husbands – and you know I’m not lying. How’d you like someone you care about to be falsely accused?

    There are no saints and certainly not Kobe – but there was no pandering in this article. Just a nice tribute. Get the chip off your shoulder.

  • @LASD Apostle

    Great post and on point.

    Unfortunately this is exactly why her credibility goes only so far. I can see why Celeste would change her stance and put a blind eye to the #MeToo movement when it suits her and when it’s a minority involved.

    She suffers from the millennial white woman trend called #whiteguilt. Had Kobe been a white guy, she would have written a biased report focusing on his prior sexual assault case while taking the focus off the incident and his accomplishments. That’s the problem with the biased/agenda filled reporting nowadays.

  • LASD Apstole-

    My friend, if you would only take that position with the pedophiles on the force that go after underage cadets, or the officers that recently got busted with kiddie porn, or the officers that have “consensual” sexual relations with inmates, or the ones that were willing to let some moving violation for some fellatio, or the ones who engage in forcible rape, and who thereafter get a DNA-hit for previous sexual assaults. I can go on, if you wish.

    And, we did not even get into the mess where they have sex while parked and drunk, or where they stalk the ex, or where they swap wife. That power trip derived from the badge and gun brings out the sexual deviant in many an officer.

    Finally, if you were a bit more consistent and not such a hypocrite, you would find Trump a bit more offensive. But, alas, it was merely locker room talk, and you know about that no doubt.

  • Sure Kobe made mistakes. Are we to never forgive anybody who moves forward in a positive light. He has done some good. Whatever the incident, he was not prosecuted for it.

    His poor family waiting at the girls basketball sidelines for him to arrive only to find out Kobe and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash. Same with all the other victims and their surviving family members. If they can move forward we should also.

    RIP for all the victims.

  • cf,

    Why do you fixate on police misconduct so much? Did one touch you (or not touch you) in a certain place? Show us on the dolly where your vitriol emanated from.

    If in fact Kobe raped that young lady, it is water under the bridge. He paid a financial price to her and his wife. Funny how that works, no? Rich and famous people rarely pay any price. Mr. Puddin Pops is an exception, largely due to the #metoo phenomenon.

    Just let the people who worship their sports heroes morn Kobe. I’m more concerned about the USAF jet downed in Afghanistan, but I guess I worship different heroes.

  • Douche of Reality-

    Thank you for your concern. There is no fixation, and, no, they did not touch me. I am merely calling out Apostle’s hypocrisy. The difference between Kobe’s misdeeds and those of your uniformed ilk is that Kobe paid out of his pocket for his and we, the public, pay for yours. Kobe paid for his lawyers, we pay for yours. Kobe may have been wearing his jersey when he raped the girl, if he raped her, you and your ilk are wearing a city or county-issued badge, uniform and gun. Just calling out the hypocrisy.

    Folks can worship whomever they wish. I do not worship Kobe or the folks in the downed Jet, one was a good, if not great, basketball player and the others were merely doing their job, nothing heroic in either.

    • “Hypocrisy” cf? Not much for self awareness are you? You rattled off crimes committed by police, then you referred to “dose of reality” as if he were guilty of crimes committed by someone else. Because some cop somewhere committed a crime, all cops are guilty eh? You apply that standard to everyone cf? Every time a black man commits a crime, do you go around asking all black men why they did it?
      Of course you don’t, because being a “woke” social justice warrior is how you justify indulging the rage you harbor against your parents. You attack the current politically acceptable villains, poor whites, cops, and everyone guilty of wrong think. You’re a nasty little piece of work cf, I feel sorry for your parents.

    • cf,

      You are one sick person. Law enforcement and military personnel protect your butt so you can safely pop off at the mouth and be a silly snowflake with your feelings getting hurt.

      I’ll take the military personnel “merely doing their job” as heroes over whomever you worship. Bernie Sanders? Hillary? Obama, of course. Oh, sorry your girl lost, by the way.

      • Dose of Reality – Does your high school educated brain really lead you to think that every hardworking man/woman who works hard, whether it’s a doctor, teacher, mailman – hell even the janitor is not honorable for doing his/her job. Get the hell out of here with your we are protected by law enforcement. Every single person works hard, pays taxes and does their part as a community to keep the Country going. LE does not do it for free, especially in CA. It is the best job with a very high paying salary and exceptional benefits and a fat retirement at 55. Hell you guys rape the system more than the thugs on the street. When you retire you then move to Idaho, Texas, Montana, and other tax free States. How about we get rid of your pension and pay you guys what an individual with a high school diploma earns. You guys will cry and bitch and morn.

        And yes even after you guys retire we work so you can keep getting fat at our cost.

        Oh wait I bet you have a picture of Trump in your bedroom where you worship him. [WLA edit. Enough.]

        • Another condescending unhappy person (or just as likely cf again) looking down upon the merely “high school educated”and declaring that “even the janitor is not honorable for doing his job”. I’d say anyone who shows up and puts in an honest days work is honorable, to say the least. Wissinger (probably closer to your real name) the market has determined these high school educated cops are worth a lot more than you are, even with your gender studies degree, no amount of raving on this blog is going to change that, but is hilarious to watch you lash out.

          • Madame Kong – I bet you find it hilarious when the truth shines. You guys think you are God’s gift to humanity. Somehow if you do not patrol the streets, the communities in LA will turn into Afghanistan or worse. Keep feeding your mouth. BTW do you still fit in that airplane seat or, have they asked you to buy two seats – you know because you can’t fit in one.

        • Yes, my mere high school education is clearly overshadowed by your enlightened, liberal arts degree from some left wing university.

          I learned early in my career what people like you are all about. A few of us worked a special event in the “inner city,” wherein law students helped the indigenous population with their minor legal issues.

          Throughout the day, the law students glared at us LEOs as though we were the enemy. But when the day was done and all the “locals” were out of eyesight, the law students meekly approached us with their hats in their hands, begging us for escorts to their cars that were parked some distance away. You see, they were suddenly deathly afraid of the people they were helping all day and now needed us to protect them from those fine folks.

          Precious.

          • Dose of Reality – Was this inner city East LA where Deputies from Fort Apache protected the poor law students. The same Fort Apache where Deputies from the tough guy clique ( you know what I am talking about ) forced female Deputies into forcible sexual predator like hazing as an initiation into the elite Deputy clique.

  • Posted on Facebook: “Let’s chat.
    We need to talk about “intersectional analysis” and how it plays out in our social media discussions.
    Intersectional awareness is, literally, being aware of the way that issues intersect across marginalized identities. It’s noticing that issues both impact and are impacted by different locations on this web – and it’s a web, not a ladder – of marginalization, this system of oppression called kyriarchy. Intersectional awareness analyzes an issue – a concept, a theme – from one particular position on the web, noticing how all of the other threads on the web are impacted by that same issue. Intersectional analysis recognizes that privilege is interwoven through the web, that we all have places and positions where we are privileged, and it seeks to mitigate for that privilege by centering the identities – locations on the web – that are impacted most by any given issue. Intersectional awareness is not about parsing out which places a person sits at on the web as much as it’s about noticing that oppression is systematic and every instance of marginalization reverberates throughout the system. It’s the *why* of the quote y’all love to throw around: injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. An intersectional analysis sees *how* that’s true.
    An intersectional analysis holds in tension the privilege of the speaker, the thinker, the one analyzing and the impact of marginalization that they will never feel.
    An intersectional analysis, for example, notices how accessibility is also an issue of class and is complicated by gender identity. Another example: an intersectional analysis of power in the Black church looks at how race, gender, sexuality, and class are levied in, through, and against religious spaces.
    It’s not easy work. It requires consciously centering the other. And accountability.
    And, so, Kobe.
    I ain’t never been a Kobe Bryant fan. Won’t never be.
    But if we’re going to tell the truth about who he was, we need to tell the whole truth.
    He raped her.
    Dassit. End of discussion. He raped her.
    And like 99% of rapists, he was never convicted. He paid his victim restitution. Literally.
    Restitution doesn’t make her whole. It doesn’t unrape her. But restitution is also justice.
    And then? Then he grew up.
    He advocated for women athletes. (And y’all know that advocating for professional women athletes is also advocating for Queer Black Women and that’s where *my* priority is. Be clear where *I* stand.)
    He built institutions to serve marginalized children.
    He meant hope and promise to Black people. He meant hope and promise to poor people. He meant hope and. promise to people of color.
    Worldwide.
    If your position on the web doesn’t allow you to see Kobe Bryant’s impact on the rest of the web: your analysis is flawed.
    I have seen lots of middle class women analyzing Kobe’s impact on – mostly white – women. It’s a gross oversimplification of Kobe’s life. It’s a flawed analysis of rape culture. It’s a demonstrated lack of intersectional awareness. It’s what white feminism does: ignore everyone but themselves for the sake of their own pain.
    No one can afford that.
    I cried.
    My kids hugged me and gave me space.
    No one is asking you to cry. I am asking, though, that as you move through these eStreetz, trumpeting your wokeness, gloating in being wokier than thou (tm, Heidi Lewis) that you use an appropriate analysis of who and what Kobe Bryant was to, in, and for people throughout this web of oppression.
    Because “he was a rich rapist” is lazy and intellectually dishonest.”

    • Not sure that this advice works for some commenting on this topic. My position:With a victim refusing to testify,lawsuit filed and,if I’m not mistaken, this wasn’t Kobe’s first encounter with the accuser, a money grab could also he argued taking his celebrity status under consideration. Maybe, Maybe not. Either way is too vague to have such strong opinions. But having to go back to 2003 to pass judgement while accusing Celeste of hypocrisy when she’s reporting as all other publications, simply reeks of it’s own bias. No mention of any other victims ,or the tragic incident itself, just an immediate attack upon learning about his death.

      Particularly when taking the history of some commentors, sounds to me like some just found opportunity to pounce upon those they love to hate:Kobe was rich and black and Celeste doesn’t conform to their desired narative.

      • When Baca & Tanaka (which included “Pay for play” and “Pandora’s Box”) were exposed to a deeper degree, the naysayers of Celeste and WLA were mum.
        Now that WLA still reports to a deeper degree during this regime, the naysayers and hater have hissy fits. To you whiners, haters and know it all’s, quit your bitch’in or quit reading.
        Here’s the short list,
        1. Maj Kong aka Madam Kong
        2.LASD Apostle aka LASD Imposter

        Whether the others fizzled out or currently inactive, we know who are.

  • Some folks will never change and given any platform will make it about themselves, a legend plus 8 others died in a crash. The hell with politics, feuds and politics. Show some respect for this man, his family and the others that were amongst the others in this disaster.

    We all have opinions on this board, time is ticking on us all, we all have made mistakes at some point and we all will meet our maker. So stay blessed, do the best that you can everyday and hopefully when the time runs out on your ticking clock, you will leave behind a good legacy and make it into the gates.

    Rip 2 The Great Kobe Bryant and all the others who were making their legacy on this great earth.

    Stay Blessed folks and do better each day of your lives that you may influence someone else to do better no matter the color of their skin, the content of their character or what wrongs they may have done in the past.

    Only god can judge us when the clock has run out. Will you be ready, when it hits that final second and your existence is no more.

    I often smh at these comments that appear on this site, it’s a good place to voice our opinions and state what we believe. I wonder if we all had to put our real names and legit info on social sites would we then say how we really feel, I doubt it because many of men are cowards and hide behind screens with twitter fingers.

    It’s ok, cause the man above knows who we are and he’s the one controlling the clock. So I ask what have you done to better a love one, a friend, a stranger.

    Be easy folks and sleep tight, the clock is ticking.

    Tic Toc, Tic Toc, Toc Toc,

    • Did you really expect anything positive from those boys who whine and talk foolishly.

      One hundred per cent sure that these are the same cowards who never discussed their grievances with Tanaka when he reigned.

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