Tributes pour in for Kobe Bryant on one-year anniversary of death

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One year after NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed along with one of his teenage daughters in a helicopter crash in California, tributes to the basketball legend and cultural icon poured in. 

“He’s still here. He still lives among us. He’s in our daily struggles. He’s in our personal triumphs. He’s in our last-second defensive stops or buzzer-beating shots or wherever we require that Mamba Mentality. Even amid a pandemic in which nobody is supposed to be anywhere, Kobe is everywhere,” wrote longtime Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke.

“He came to Los Angeles as a kid, departed it as a man, and for those 24 years, we witnessed every painful and precocious bit of his growth. Right before our eyes. Directly into our living rooms. With equal parts shock and awe. We gasped at the mistakes and swooned at the dramatics and reveled in the journey,” Plaschke added. 

“It’s been crazy, [watching] this city grow and growing with it. I remember when L.A. Live was just a parking lot. I feel such an appreciation, I can never pay the city back for what it’s given me,” the columnist said Bryant told him during what would turn out to be their final interview. “A year after his death, his spirit continues to settle that debt. Kobe Bryant has left us. Mamba never will.”

Dozens of public figures also memorialized Bryant on the first anniversary of his death. 

Bryant was killed on Jan. 26, 2020, when a helicopter carrying him, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people crashed near Calabasas, Calif. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the pilot, Ara Zobayan, “could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles” and been suffering from “spatial disorientation” at the time of the crash. 

In the weeks that followed his death, hundreds of emotional outpourings from athletes, celebrities politicians, business executives and media members from around the world were circulated online and on television. 

“Vanessa, I’m keeping you in my prayers today. Grief is a heavy burden to bear — especially with the eyes of the world watching,” then-presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted to Bryant’s widow. “But there will come a day, I promise you, when the memory of Kobe and Gianna will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.” 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) this week reintroduced the “Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act,” a measure that if passed into law would require terrain awareness and warning systems on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers. 

“It’s clear the simple addition of this equipment will help keep passengers safe and prevent crashes due to poor visibility. Last January we saw just how deadly flying in low visibility without this equipment can be when a helicopter carrying nine individuals, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, crashed,” Feinstein said. “The accident may very well have been avoided if terrain awareness equipment were mandatory as this bill will ensure it is.”

Tags Brad Sherman Joe Biden Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers National Basketball Association

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