Kobe Bryant began frequently using helicopters for travel during his days as a Laker. Like a lot of stories surrounding Bryant, these helicopter trips were initially attributed to his insane work ethic toward the game of basketball. But during a 2018 interview, Kobe revealed that he actually began using helicopters as a mode of travel so that he could attend family events more often.
Bryant sat down with Alex Rodriguez for Barstool Sports' The Corp with A-Rod and Big Cat podcast in December 2018. During the conversation, Kobe explained how helicopters became a means for him to balance his work and home life as well as evade Los Angeles' infamous traffic.
"Traffic started getting really, really bad," Kobe said. "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."
It was then that Kobe started doing his research on helicopter travel. He realized that by taking a chopper, he would be able to get from downtown L.A. to anywhere he needed to be in some 15 minutes. As a father of four, this lifestyle change was made in an effort to be present in his children's lives.
"You have like road trips and times where you don’t see your kids," Kobe said. "So every chance I get to see them, to spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car."
On Sunday, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash. Bryant and Gianna were traveling with players on Gianna's travel basketball team to Kobe's Mamba Cup Tournament when the accident took place. There were no survivors.
According to CNN, the helicopter carrying them was allowed to be in the air due to "special visual flight rules," which allows a pilot to fly in certain weather conditions. Authorities are still trying to determine exactly what went wrong.
Following the incident, A-Rod took to Instagram, where he eulogized Bryant.
"We met as teenagers. We followed similar paths. We went from high school to the pros and our baby girls grew up together. People don't know this, but he was my secret coach. He pushed me and motivated me, especially toward the end of my career when I needed him most," the caption reads. "I will remember his greatness. I will remember his guidance. I will remember his friendship. I will remember that he made me a better person."
"His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was following in her Dad’s footsteps. She was kind, smart, caring and going to be a star," he continued. "Rest in peace, Kobe. Rest in peace, GiGi. My heart and prayers go out to the Bryant family and the passengers’ families."
Kobe Bryant's illustrious career would've already guaranteed him a first-ballot Hall of Fame bid, but it is happening sooner due to the untimely news. Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed to The Athletic that Bryant will be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts.