Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2020. 2:01 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Two days following a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California which claimed nine lives, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, two of her teammates and their families; fans around the world, his peers and those he influenced and inspired have expressed shock and deep sympathy. An investigation into the cause of the crash continues and details of what transpired on Sunday have started emerging slowly with CNN confirming that the pilot, a seasoned veteran with thousands of hours of flight-time, was given special permission to fly.
The news shocked the sports-world and beyond, reminiscent of celebrity deaths such as those of Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, felt around the world and illustrating the reach of his impact on a generation. NBA players were seen in tears, and having to be consoled at games on Sunday after hearing the news. Analysts, commentators, celebrities, athletes from other sports, fans and even non-fans, have shared their fondest memories of the 5-time NBA champion who was known for an unmatched and ferocious work ethic.
A large crowd gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday and carried on into Monday after news broke of the tragic accident. To commemorate him, a number of landmarks across the world, including City Hall in Los Angeles, LAX airport, the Empire State Building and Madison Square Garden in New York, the Mall of Asia and several other landmarks in the Philippines and scores of hotels and other public spaces, lit up in Laker purple and gold in honor of his legacy.
An NBA game scheduled to be played tonight in Los Angeles between the Lakers and the Clippers has been canceled and councilors assigned to the players and staff of the teams, who shared a close personal relationship with Bryant for many years.
According to CNN, moments before the crash the pilot received SVFR clearance – or special visual flight rules clearance, which allows a pilot to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for regular visual flight rules. After the pilot requested special permission to fly through the area, the helicopter circled for 12 minutes until air traffic control approved SVFR clearance. When the pilot flew into the Burbank and Van Nuys airspace at 1,400 feet, he requested radar assistance to avoid traffic but air traffic control said the helicopter was too low to be able to get that assistance.
Zobayan said he was going to climb higher, and air traffic controllers responded. But they never heard back. Radar data indicated the helicopter climbed 2,300 feet and began a left descending turn. The last radar contact was around 9:45 a.m. Sunday. The helicopter crashed two minutes later. Investigators are reportedly looking into whether the pilot should have been granted SVFR clearance.
CNN also noted: “From China to Italy, where Bryant spent much of his childhood and became fluent in Italian, grieving fans remember Bryant’s global impact – not just as a player, but as a humanitarian. Bryant was active with charities such as After-School All-Stars, Stand Up to Cancer, and, of course, the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which helps struggling families around the world,” adding that now fans and companies are springing into action to carry on Bryant’s legacy of philanthropy.
At home in Belize, where the Lakers have scores of dedicated fans dating back to the early 80s, the sentiment of shock and grief at the news has been much the same with tons of people online sharing their thoughts and sympathy of the tragedy which claimed nine lives. Bryant was hailed for coining the Mamba Mentality, a tribute to self-belief, discipline and determination readily applied to any craft, beyond the boundaries of a basketball court. He inspired a generation to work hard and never back down, even on the days it is easiest to do so. His loss will surely be felt for years to come.
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