What a start to 2020. My last post eluded to how rough this year had started and sadly, that theme has lingered in the wake of basketball legend, Kobe Bryant‘s sudden passing along with this daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven other people in a tragic helicopter crash last Sunday.
When you hear of tragedies like this, it always comes back to…why?
Why did this have to happen?
Why was it okay to fly in such poor weather conditions?
Even the LAPD had grounded their choppers that day because of the poor visibility. So if they weren’t flying, why was anyone else? These are the things that just make you wonder…why? And sadly, we’ll never really know.
I read an article that mentioned Kobe and Gianna paying an early-morning visit to their local church earlier that morning. For both father and daughter to have experienced those intimate moments with their faith so soon before this happened was just a surreal feeling.
I equally feel for the families of the other passengers on the helicopter whose lives have been forever turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
To add to the enormity of this tragedy, I’ve come to learn that baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife and youngest daughter that also perished in the crash, had two other older children that were not with them. I cannot even imagine the pain they must be feeling losing both their parents and sister so suddenly.
Christina Mauser was an assistant girls basketball coach at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy – the destination that they were headed too. She leaves behind a husband and three small children.
Ara Zobayan was the pilot flying the helicopter. He was a certified flight instructor and had his commercial pilot’s license for over 12 years.
As we know, Gianna was a rising basketball star with her dad being her biggest supporter. They had a very special bond when it came to the love and passion for the sport. Sarah and Payton Chester were a mother and daughter with Payton being a teammate on Gianna’s team, along with Alyssa. All three girls were aspiring basketball players with a strong support system from their families.
Perception in the Media
Now, one thing that we always seem to hear about when a tragedy occurs involving someone well-known, is that the other victims seem to get inadvertently over-shadowed in the media. I feel conflicted about this impression, because, yes, the most famous person on that helicopter was Kobe Bryant, but it by no means made the passing of the other passengers any less heart-breaking.
While I admit the coverage can be very obviously imbalanced, it’s not like we, as members of the general, non-media public, can control that. Every victim has left behind family, friends, and loved ones that are hurting and will be mourning their loss for years to come. Let’s not let the media cloud that. We can only imagine what all nine people were feeling in those final moments – so debating about the media focusing more or less on certain people just seems inconsequential really. What should be the focus is keeping the memories of all the victims alive in our hearts and prayers.
My heart goes out to each and every one of the families of this tragedy. I pray for their peace and comfort as they try to make sense of this new, painful reality. Our collective, universal prayers have immense powers that can lift those in need in ways you can’t imagine.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and partner of over 20 years, with whom she shares three other daughters (pictured below), eluded to this in a very poignant and heartfelt post on instagram earlier this week.
She spoke of her immeasurable loss and for the loss of the other families with such grace and candor. I commend her incredible strength and courage in such a difficult time.
Out of darkness can only come light. As we move forward from this, I pray for brighter days ahead for everyone in a year that has barely begun.
If you wish to show your support to the other families affected by this tragedy, you can do so at the MambaOnThree fund established by the academy in memory of the victims.
To continue supporting Kobe and Gianna’s passion and legacy in youth sports, you can make a contribution at the Mamba Sports Foundation.
Sending much love and prayers for peace to all the victims and their families.