'Fighting for joy:' Surviving family from Kobe Bryant crash find different ways to cope
From a benefit concert to commemorative coins, the loved ones who weren't on that tragic helicopter flight are working through their grief.HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Sitting on a couch in a music studio, Matt Mauser demonstrated how he used to react when a helicopter passed overhead.
A year later, the tears have not stopped. They flow with an anguish as fresh as that dreadful Sunday when word spread that Kobe Bryant’s helicopter had crashed. They are tears not just for a fallen superstar, however. It turns out that his death presaged 12 months of prevalent despair, a misery from which we have yet to emerge. © Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images A fan visits Kobe Bryant murals by the artist Melany Meza-Dierks in Los Angeles in August. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Kobe Bean Bryant — who grew up on the big stage, rebuilt his image after shame and created a fulfilling basketball afterlife — died last Jan. 26 in a horrific accident that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. It was an unforgettable tragedy, an evolving icon gone at 41. But in the devastation of the past year, it came to be just the first unshakably bad thing that happened.
Kobe and the Mambas: How 3 photographers captured the now famous images
It was Day 2 of the Mamba Cup and Los Angeles-based photographers Jineen Williams and Jajuan Tyler were waiting for Kobe Bryant to walk through the door at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Williams, Tyler and Brandon Green make up the photo and graphics company DAH - Design and Photography and had been covering Gianna Bryant and the Mambas for the past 18 months. DAH also has done freelance work with Ball Is Life, SLAM and Overtime and has taken photographs and videos of all the top talent coming up in Southern California, including Bronny James, Mikey Williams, Josh Christopher, Cassius Stanley and countless others.
The nation mourned for weeks. The Kobe and Gianna public memorial wasn’t until about a month later. Los Angeles, Bryant’s adopted home, continues to weep. Yet there’s still a sense that the grieving process was truncated. There was always someone else to mourn, something else to inspire sorrow.
Lakers have no plans for publicly marking the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death
I planned to begin writing this column Friday. But Hank Aaron died. While searching for words that could attempt to honor the remarkable life of Hammerin’ Hank, I thought about all the tributes to deceased sports figures I’ve written the past 12 months, including local legends John Thompson Jr. and Wes Unseld. I thought about all the tributes beyond sports I wished I had written: for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman, Alex Trebek. I thought about teaming with my brother to write our grandparents’ obituaries, the toughest of all assignments, and I thought about the ordinary people — the ones uncelebrated but essential to a community’s fabric — we lost to covid-19, a number that has surpassed 418,000 Americans.
What to expect from final NTSB report at 1-year anniversary mark for Kobe Bryant’s deadly helicopter crash
The catastrophic crash killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, the pilot and six others in Calabasas. After the initial shock of the tragedy gave way to grief and then a painstaking probe for answers, the final report on exactly what went wrong is due Feb. 9, the National Transportation and Safety Board said. © Jae C. Hong FILE - In this April 13, 2016, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant smiles during the first half of his last NBA basketball game, against the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles.
I thought about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and this entire wave of senseless death and racial injustice. I thought about the five people who died in the Capitol riot, particularly U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick, and the treacherous reasons for that conflict. I thought about how damaged and sick we are as a nation — because of the novel coronavirus, racism, delusion, dissension, isolation, heartache and pain — and for all that thinking, it was still an unfathomable experience.
Sometimes, it feels like Bryant died last week. Are we not in a similar emotional place? Every time the air seems breathable again, do we not brace for the next suffocating event? In a sense, our world has been stuck on idle for most of the past year. In another, it seldom has moved so consequentially.
“As we approach his one-year anniversary, it saddens our hearts to actually come to the realization that he’s gone,” Los Angeles Lakers all-star forward Anthony Davis said of Bryant. “I know I still have trouble with it. You still just can’t believe it.”
Death of Kobe Bryant, one year later: the moving letter written by a friend of Gianna
© Sipa Death of Kobe Bryant, one year later: the moving letter written by a friend of Gianna This Tuesday, January 26, 2021 , it's been a year to the day since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. Still in mourning, Vanessa, the basketball player's widow, has just paid tribute to their daughter through a letter written by one of the friends of the teenager who died at 13. On January 26, 2020 , the world of basketball fans stopped turning.
That helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., erected a signpost: Agony Ahead. For those who grieved Bryant, the tears transferred from tragedy to tragedy. For those who didn’t, life found a way to break them down.
In his first speech as president last week, Joe Biden framed the tribulations well while imploring the country to unite. We are divided, but we’re all dodging misery, a tenacious kind that has seeped into every facet of life. This bonds us, even if we don’t acknowledge it.
“Folks, this is a time of testing,” Biden said during the inauguration. “We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested. Are we going to step up? All of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain, I promise you: We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.”
'Court of Impeachment', US travel, Kobe Bryant's death one year later: 5 things to know Tuesday
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Before these cascading crises escalated, we were already facing a difficult year, from wildfires in Australia to Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Within 45 days of Bryant’s death, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic. The long recovery continues, without regard to our fatigue or frustration.
In any other year, it would have been difficult to process the death of Bryant and his daughter, who seemed destined to become a star and add a new texture to the family’s basketball legacy. It would have been difficult to think about all that Kobe wanted to do, with his burgeoning media company, his commitment to uplifting women’s athletics and his interest in reimagining youth sports. But if left to deal with just that loss, the public may have progressed toward closure. Instead, the process seems woefully incomplete.
This anniversary doesn’t take us back to a heartbreaking memory. It reminds us that we remain in it, trapped under the emotional boulder, unable to escape.
“Man, it’s a saying that time heals all,” LeBron James told reporters Saturday night. “And as devastating and as tragic as it was and still is to all of us involved with it, only time. And it takes time. Everyone has their own grieving process.”
Trae Young honors Kobe Bryant in win vs. Clippers on anniversary of his death
Plenty around the sports world paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant on Tuesday, exactly one year after they were killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles. Trae Young, even though he had a game to focus on, made sure to honor the former Lakers great, too. Young, late in their 108-99 win against the Los Angeles Clippers, threw up Bryant’s number near half court after sealing the win. De’Andre Hunter added 22 points, and Clint Capela finished wit 13 points and 18 rebounds. Reggie Jackson led the Clippers with 20 points and eight assists, and Serge Ibaka dropped 15 points.
Time has only given us new people to grieve and new obstacles to overcome. The process is more complicated than usual. There’s no use predicting how long it will take.
The shock lingers, perhaps because we keep getting shocked. At the time, it felt like Bryant’s death would shape the year. It proved to be a mere prelude to a barrage of complex suffering that defined the past 12 months and threatens all our futures in some way.
On Tuesday, one year since the fiery crash, we remember a celebrity and sigh again about his heart-wrenching demise. Then the harshest realization comes to the surface: The Kobe Bryant tragedy was a beginning, and no one can be certain when this period of misery will end.
Read more from Jerry Brewer:
Tallying up a year of loss: A lot of pounds, too many loved ones, countless connections
Racism carved away a piece of Hank Aaron’s heart. What remained was still a gift.
John Thompson challenged America. Respect, not fear, defines his legacy.
A star who handled the lesser roles, Wes Unseld couldn’t hide his greatness
Vanessa Bryant Shares Memories of Kobe and Gianna After Anniversary of Their Deaths .
Vanessa and her daughters enjoyed a snowy outing and shared memories of her late husband and little girl.Vanessa shared a series of photos of herself and her girls -- Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1 -- as they bundled up against the cold on a snowy slope and rode in innertubes with other masked mountain visitors.