It’s been a year since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Jan. 26, 2020.
They were on their way to a basketball tournament on a Sunday morning. Bryant, Gigi — that’s what most called his daughter — and everyone else aboard the helicopter were killed instantly in the crash, officials said.
Bryant, 41, won five championships in his 20 NBA seasons, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a Grammy winner. He was a best-selling author of children’s books. He will soon be officially enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Knowing that the anniversary of Bryant’s death will be emotional for everyone, Lakers coach Frank Vogel is giving his players the day off to allow them to better manage their grief and honor their late teammate Bryant “how they see fit.”
“It’s not a day remembrance like his birthday,” Vogel said. “It’s more of a somber-tone-type-of-day.”
The Lakers are spending the night in Cleveland before flying to Philadelphia — Bryant’s hometown — on Tuesday. They play the 76ers on Wednesday.
“God rest his soul, God rest the soul of Gigi and the seven others that perished,” said Miami assistant coach and former NBA player Caron Butler, who was close with Bryant for years. “The legacy that he left, man, he did it all. He inspired. When you think about being better, embracing the storm, having the right mentality and perspective about life and always trying to be better, he embodied it all and that’s why his legacy will live forever.”