The sports world was shaken when basketball legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, the pilot, and six other people. As more details about the January 26th, 2020 incident continue to emerge, the news only becomes more heartbreaking.
While fans and celebrities felt a strong connection to the retired Los Angeles Laker, nothing can quite compare to what Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant, must be going through. Vanessa and Kobe had four children together during their nearly 20-year marriage. Although no one could fault Vanessa for opting to stay out of the spotlight and process her grief in private, she has bravely posted on social media more than once to talk about this unimaginable loss.
On February 10th, 2020, Vanessa posted a lengthy Instagram update about how she's coping, along with video footage of Gianna and Kobe. She wrote,
"I've been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can't process both at the same time. It's like I'm trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me."
Vanessa acknowledged the range of emotions she's feeling, including anger, saying,
"It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn't being able to have that opportunity?! I'm so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I'm not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I'm here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri."
As Vanessa noted, there's no wrong way to grieve. She added,
"I know what I'm feeling is normal. It's part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there's anyone out there that's experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over."
Vanessa also extended prayers to all of the victims of the helicopter crash. She went on to announce that a memorial called "A Celebration of Life: Kobe & Gianna Bryant" will take place at the Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers. The date of the memorial February 24th, 2020 holds special significance. Gigi's jersey number was 2; her father's was 24; and Vanessa and Kobe were together for 20 years.
That's not the only way the pair has been honored so far. On February 5th, Gianna's basketball team retired her #2 jersey. Along with photos from the ceremony at Harbor Day School, Vanessa wrote:
"My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You've taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita."
On January 31st, at the Lakers' first home game since the tragedy, #8 and #24 Bryant jerseys were placed on all the seats inside the Staples Center. Two court-side seats were decorated with roses, as well as a #2 Mamba Academy jersey for Gianna and a #24 Lakers jersey for the Black Mamba himself.
New information about the helicopter accident also continues to emerge. The exact cause of the crash has not been disclosed, and the Associated Press reported the investigation could take at least a year. For now, the National Transportation Safety Board found no outward evidence of engine failure, but there is one update that's especially gut-wrenching.
According to TIME, pilot Ara Zobayan had nearly cleared the heavy cloud cover that was hampering visibility before the helicopter crashed into the hillside. The publication reported,
"The helicopter was just 100 feet (30 meters) from the cloud tops and conceivably would have broken through into clear air in a matter of seconds."
It's believed that foggy weather impacted Zobayan's ability to fly that day, although several people who knew him were quick to vouch for his skills as a pilot with 8,200 hours of flight time.
As Vanessa's Instagram post made clear, this has been an extremely difficult situation for everyone involved. Perhaps she will find some solace as Kobe, Gianna, and the rest of the victims' memories continue to be honored by loved ones and strangers alike.
Watch the video to see how Vanessa Bryant Opens Up About Losing Kobe And Gigi.
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