The nine people who perished in a helicopter crash Sunday that ended retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s life were Orange County residents with deep roots in our community. Multiple news outlets reported those traveling with Bryant as:
- Gianna Bryant, Bryant’s daughter, who attended Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar
- Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa, one of Gianna’s teammates at Bryant’s basketball school Mamba Academy
- Payton Chester, another member of the Mambas girls basketball team and a student at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, and her mother Sarah
- Christina Mauser, assistant coach for the Mambas team, Huntington Beach resident, wife to Matt Mauser of local rock band Tijuana Dogs, and mother of three children
- Ara Zobayan, Huntington Beach resident and pilot
Orange County residents had many stories about Bryant in their communities or slices of life they shared with him. A few are mentioned in our Celebrity Encounters in O.C. in August, as well as other coverage over the years.
Bryant’s retirement was regarded as one of the year’s most newsworthy moments in our “Great Moments of 2016” feature: “Longtime O.C. resident and Lakers star Kobe Bryant finished his pro basketball career in April by scoring 60 points in his final game.”
In our Why We Love O.C. issue May of 2017, Bryant was among a list of star athletes in Newport Beach with his many accolades, including five NBA championships and the second youngest player to reach 30,000 points.
Bryant’s latest installment of his New York Times bestselling book series is set to release in March. He founded Granity Studios in Costa Mesa, a multimedia company focused on telling inspiring stories for budding athletes. The studios’ inaugural animated short “Dear Basketball” had won Bryant an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018.