These haunting final images show Kobe Bryant beaming with pride as he coaches his daughter at the Mamba Cup Tournament Series just a day before their tragic deaths.
The former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna died after his private Sikorsky S-76 crashed into a hillside in Calabasas on Sunday morning.
Among those also killed was John Altobelli, a baseball coach at Orange County College, his wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa and girls basketball coach Christina Mauser.
The party of nine were said to have been heading to Mamba Academy – which Bryant founded – for another day at the tournament, which is aimed at teams from the third to eighth grades.
Bryant was said to have coached Gianna’s team. All the games were canceled after the news of their deaths became public.
In the images taken a day before the 18-time NBA All-Star talks to Gianna and a group of her peers about their game.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California on Sunday. Haunting final images show Bryant beaming with pride as he coaches Gianna on Saturday
The party of nine were said to have been heading to Mamba Academy – which he founded – for another day at the tournament. Gianna is pictured playing on Saturday
Bryant was said to have coached Gianna’s team. He is pictured on Saturday at the event
Bryant seems to be guiding the youngsters while also taking the chance to dribble the ball during a break in proceedings.
On its website The Mamba Cup Tournament Series is described as ‘developed by Kobe Bryant. It adds: ‘The Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant, has long wanted to develop a league concept for high level youth basketball teams in Grades 2-8.
‘Thus, the Mamba Cup Tournament Series has been designed to capture the benefits of league play while still honoring the tournament culture established by those who have built youth basketball to where it is today.’
The father daughter duo were thought to have been at one of eleven tournaments from September through March ‘culminating in the Championship Tournament on the weekend of March 28-29’.
The website adds: ‘Of course, Coach Bryant’s very own Girls 8th Grade Mamba Club Team will be a participant in the Mamba Cup.’
Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas after a group of mountain bikers spotted the smoke.
The helicopter carrying Bryant flew through thick fog and appeared to get into trouble above the LA Zoo where it circled at a very low altitude. Air traffic control audio suggests conditions were worsening shortly before the crash.
A flight plan indicated the helicopter, reportedly registered to Island Express Holding Corp., took off from John Wayne Airport in Orange County at 9.06am PST and the last signal was received from the aircraft at 9.45am. It was expected to land at San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte.
In the images taken a day before their deaths the 18-time NBA All-Star talks to Gianna and a group of her peers about their game. He seems to be guiding the youngsters while also taking the chance to dribble the ball during a break in proceedings
Gianna frequently shared photos of herself on the court on social media
News of the NBA legend’s death sent shockwaves in the sports world and beyond – marking an abrupt ending to one of most indelible public lives in modern American history
The father daughter duo appeared to share a love of basketball, seen here on Saturday
Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters – Natalia, Bianca and Capri, who was born last summer.
A heartbreaking video of the deceased father-daughter duo attending a basketball game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets on December 21 resurfaced soon after the crash.
Bryant appears to be teaching Gianna – a budding basketball star herself – a thing or two about the game while sitting courtside at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Gianna frequently shared photos of herself on the court on social media.
Fans and mourners gather at the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, Ca to pay their respects to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
All the games at the tournament were canceled after the news of their deaths became public
News of the NBA legend’s death sent shockwaves in the sports world and beyond – marking an abrupt ending to one of most indelible public lives in modern American history.
Barack Obama called Bryant ‘a legend on the court just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act’.
He said: ‘To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.’
President Donald Trump reacted to the reports of Bryant’s death soon after they began to surface, tweeting: ‘That is terrible news!’
He later added: ‘Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future.
‘The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating. Melania and I send our warmest condolences to Vanessa and the wonderful Bryant family. May God be with you all!’
Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five NBA championships and 18 All-Star titles before he retired in 2016. He is pictured on the court in 2013
The 41-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star’s private Sikorsky S-76 struck a hillside amid heavy fog and immediately caught fire at around 10am. Officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene near Las Virgenes Rd and Willow Glen St in Calabasas after a group of mountain bikers spotted the smoke
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the helicopter was a Sikorsky S-76. A body is covered, left, while another sits at right at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant Sunday
Thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles to mourn his passing, where the Grammy Awards were being held Sunday evening.
Singer Lizzo said ‘tonight is for Kobe!’ after host Alicia Keys paid tribute, telling those gather for the ceremony: ‘We’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built.’
His longtime Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal wrote on Twitter: ‘There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of loosing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie.
‘I love you brother and you will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!’
Retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan, to whom Bryant was often compared, expressed similar sentiments.
‘Words can’t describe the pain I am feeling. I loved Kobe — he was like a little brother to me,’ Jordan said in a statement. ‘We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.’
Bryant poses with a young fan on Saturday. Just 24 hours later he died in a helicopter crash
Bryant was thought to have been at one of eleven tournaments from September through March ‘culminating in the Championship Tournament on the weekend of March 28-29’