Kobe Bryant: A life cut short during an amazing ‘second act’

The Earth seemingly stopped rotating on the morning of Jan. 26 as we all learned that retired LA Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, was killed in a helicopter crash. And as updates started to pour in that his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna aka “GiGi,” perished alongside her dad, hearts broke for the Bryant family and the families of the seven other people who were also killed.

It was a day many of us will never forget.

Bryant, 41, and eight others were traveling on his private helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, to a basketball tournament at Mamba Academy, a school in Thousand Oaks Bryant co-founded.

Authorities confirmed the weather that morning – thick with fog — was not ideal for flying. The Los Angeles Police Department said the visibility was so poor, it decided to ground its fleet of helicopters.

Bryant’s personal pilot, Ara Zobayan, had more than 20 years of flight experience and expert knowledge of flying in inclement weather, but sometime after the last contact with air traffic controllers at 9:45 a.m., the aircraft slammed into a hillside at 1,085 feet, killing everyone on board.

Among the dead were John Altobelli, a University of Houston graduate and current head coach of the Orange Coast College Pirates, his wife, Keri, and youngest daughter, Alyssa.

Payton Chester, 13; her mother, Sarah, and Christina Glauser, the Mamba’s coach, also died.

Federal officials are not expected to determine the exact cause of the accident for months.

A true legend

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pa. He is the youngest of three children and the only son of former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant.

The “Black Mamba,” as he is called, earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa.

Bryant received several awards for his outstanding performance during his senior year including, Naismith High School Player of the Year, Gatorade Men’s National Basketball Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-American, first-team Parade All-American and a USA Today All-USA First Team player.

Bryant was selected 13th overall in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, but was traded to the Lakers where he spent his entire 20-year basketball career.

Bryant is a 5-time NBA Champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, NBA Most Valuable player, 2-time scoring champion, 18-time NBA All-Star, 4-time NBA All Star MVP, 15-time All-NBA team, 12-time All-Defensive team and 2-time Best ESPY NBA Player Award.

Bryant also became the first basketball player to win an NBA title and an Academy Award.

The ‘doting dad’ in his ‘second act’ of life

No matter how you felt about Bryant’s on-the-court demeanor, it was indisputable that he was one heck of a father. The ‘doting dad” was the proud father of four girls; Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and newborn Capri, whom he shared with his loving wife, Vanessa.

It was the special relationship he shared with his “chip off the old block” GiGi that had recently captured headlines before their untimely deaths.

GiGi was a basketball enthusiast and was being groomed by her dad, and had impressive moves for a girl her age. Basketball was embedded in her DNA and many speculated she was well on her way to play in the WNBA when she got older.

Viral videos spread with GiGi blocking and scoring on her dad, in addition to a multitude of photos of the two of them at arenas enjoying basketball games together. “The Black Mamba” proudly named GiGi his “Mambacita.”

President Barack Obama tweeted, “Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. 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.”

Bryant was soaring in his post-basketball life. In addition to coaching his daughter’s team, he won an Oscar as a producer, launched a media company and wrote several books.

His first book was a basketball memoir called “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play,” which entered the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list at No. 8 and ranked in the top 150 for eight weeks.

He also recently started a Young Adult book series, called “The Wizenard Series,” in collaboration with author Wesley King.

“I was fortunate to retire from the game and find something I love to do and that is the art of storytelling. There is nothing like having a blank page and outlining a story, a world, a character,” Bryant told Forbes. “What is it going to look like, how does that come together? There is nothing more fun to me than doing this.”

A champion, a philanthropist and a true icon in his own right. Kobe Bryant, African-American News&Issues salutes you.

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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