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Poker Players Mourn Loss of NBA Champ Kobe Bryant

Tags: basketball, Kobe Bryant, NBA, rip.
Posted on 31 January 2020 by "T".

Kobe & GiannaThe year 2020 should be a year of new beginnings, but nobody thought that this week, the world lost one of the most famous icons in the basketball world, and he's just at his early 40s - it's kinda ironic since there goes a saying "Life begins at 40", right?

January 26, 2020, Sunday was supposed to be a day filled with adrenaline-pumping competition on a basketball court. Instead it was a day tainted by a tragic accident that took nine lives and left the entire world, whether basketball fans or not, utterly heartbroken.

The victims of the Calabasas helicopter crash were headed that fateful day to a tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. They were Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, a budding basketball player who was set to follow in her dad's footsteps; baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa who is Gianna's basketball teammate; mom and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser, and lastly Bryant's trusted pilot Ara Zobayan.

Gianna's team that her father Kobe coached was set to compete that day in a tournament.

As the city of Los Angeles mourned the sudden death of their Lakers hero, many families, friends and fans were shocked upon learning about the terrible news.

Final Moments before Crash
Nine people were killed when Kobe Bryant's private Sikorsky S-76 helicopter went down amid a foggy weather on Sunday, January 26. The group was on their way to a girls' basketball game when the helicopter crashed.

Investigators revealed the final moments before the helicopter crashed - the aircraft plummeted for about 60 seconds before it crashed into the Los Angeles hillside and burst into flames. The crash site was close to Calabasas, 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Investigators announced late on January 28 Tuesday night how they believe the helicopter crashed, detailing the final minutes of the flight that caused the tragic death of a popular and globally well-loved former LA Lakers basketball player.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimated that the twin-engine Sikorsky S-76B tried to climb out of a cloudy fog after pilot Ara Zobayan requested for clearance to increase altitude before making a sharp left downward turn. The NTSB believe that the aircraft plummeted at a speed of 2,000+ feet per minute (approx. 26 mph) and unfortunately slammed onto the hillside terrain a minute later, bursting into fiery flames upon impact.

NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said, "This is a pretty steep descent at high speed. The time from descent to impact was probably about a minute. Zobayan's sudden increase in altitude was him trying to climb out of cloud as the aircraft flew to 2,300 feet before its sudden turn, and the rate of descent wouldn't be a normal landing speed. We know this was a higher-energy-impact crash and investigators had assumed that the helicopter was still in one piece before hitting the ground."

Homendy said that the fog, clouds and limited visibility reported in the area that Sunday were a significant focus of the investigation, which could take at least a year to complete. She said, "The helicopter was not equipped with any kind of Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), a device that might have alerted the pilot that the aircraft was dangerously close to the hillside. Nor did the helicopter carry a black box flight data recorder, which would make it easier to piece together the cause of the crash."

Reactions from the Poker World
The news spread like wildfire beyond the basketball world, with tributes and expressions of condolences pouring in from the poker players and fans worldwide. Some of the well-known names of the poker world shared their sentiments via social media, including 86-year-old poker legend Doyle Brunson and six-time WSOP bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu.

Popular poker vloggers Joey Ingram and Doug Polk also expressed their sincere condolences.

Kobe Bryant had a small history linked to poker. After long-time Lakers owner and avid high-stakes poker player Jerry Buss died in 2013, Bryant was invited to attend and play in his honor at the World Series of Poker festival. That summer, he was recovering from a knee injury. While he declined to play cards on the felt as advised by his doctor, he paid tribute to his friend and former boss by announcing the "shuffle up and deal" to kick off Event #23: $2,500 Seven Card Stud, which happened to be Buss's favorite variant.

Kobe and Gianna

Kobe Bryant, age 41, was a prodigious talent and has a win-at-all-costs spirit. After his memorable and excellent 20-year NBA career, all with the Lakers team, the "Black Mamba" was expected to become a first-ballot inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year. Kobe won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award in 2008. Fellow NBA star Michael Jordan said, "He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force."

Gianna Bryant, age 13, was the second-oldest of four girls. Called Gigi by family and friends, she was a rising star in the girls' basketball. Bryant actively coached Gianna at his Mamba Sports Academy, and he once proudly described her as a basketball star in the making. He even told Jimmy Kimmel in a 2018 interview that he didn't need to have a son to carry on his legacy because he had Gianna.

View this post on Instagram

Gigi working on that stroke #wristwork #wnbafinals

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on Sep 17, 2017 at 11:30pm PDT

For the First Time since Kobe's Death, wife Vanessa Bryant posts on Instagram
Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant made her very first public statement on January 29 Wednesday via Instagram.

Here's an excerpt:
"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe -- the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna -- a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri."

View this post on Instagram

My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on Jan 29, 2020 at 4:59pm PST


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10 comments on "Poker Players Mourn Loss of NBA Champ Kobe Bryant"

 dule-vu01/02/2020 11:01:20 GMT
didnt know that koby played at WSOP,no matter this was for honot of lakers owner and he had his knee injury!this was nice move from him!and about this poker players,dont know what to say!almost nobody didnt know him,but in todays world everybody love to write something on facebook or twitter!
 CALICUL01/02/2020 11:35:46 GMT
It is a very sad thing and helicopter accidents often happen because are old. These aircraft with propellers 25, 30 or more years old need to be checked very well, pilots the same. This is the situation and nothing can be done. R I P for all victims.
 bowie198401/02/2020 14:49:50 GMT
Nothing wrong with using an older type helicopter if it's maintained properly - in this case the crash has more to do with the fog and the overall bad vision on their surroundings than anything else.
Also some key equipment (TAWS) was not on board because the owners did not think they ever going to need them in California, so there's that.
 roeish302/02/2020 10:24:09 GMT
Wasn't one off my favourites, certainly as a Celtics fan.
After the rape incident liked him even less - But this is still a great loss. Was certainly a wonderful player and a winner.
The absolute tragedy is his doughter and friends that still had all their life before them.
 dule-vu02/02/2020 12:12:57 GMT
everybody use old helicopters,its nothing strange,but thsi was mistake from pilot in this situation!now 9 people are dead and nobody cant change it!would be nice that people write about other people,who were also there,not just about koby and his daughter!
 CALICUL02/02/2020 12:58:39 GMT
For the money that exists in their pockets they should have something new or maximum of 5-10 years. However, the world is focused on money and many accidents happen for this reason. We do not progress as civilized persons, because politicians are careful not to let this thing to happen.
 Mober02/02/2020 20:17:32 GMT
I read few hours ago that this type of helicopter wasnt meant to fly
in foggy conditions. I wonder if they knew that and if they took the risk.
Sometimes all is needed is a bad decision to end up in a situation like this.
When i first heard the news didnt expect that so many people were on board...
 dule-vu03/02/2020 12:54:27 GMT
from all news in last days,I see that everything is on pilot and that he made mistake and now everybody are dead because of fog and his mistake!nobody cant return this people and this is big thing!now whole year till end of NBA season will be in sign og Kobe,especially next all star weekend!
 CALICUL03/02/2020 13:17:02 GMT
I do not understand why there is speed in walking when you are in the front with fog. Even if you are a very experienced pilot must to cannot ignore certain situations. Now the tragedy has occurred and people need to reflect more on their decisions because they are also responsible for passengers.
 antonis32103/02/2020 22:21:46 GMT
So sad for his death . RIP Kobe . His daughter Gianna also died . so young , a really tragic loss . I wish they had never decided to fly that day . Also I read that the helicopter didn't have some devices to help them fly under these foggy weather conditions , very unfortunate , this might have cost them their life . So tragic end . Kobe , such an awesome player , caring father , lovely person . He will be missed .

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