‘There Aren’t Enough Words to Describe Our Pain,’ Kobe Bryant’s Wife Says

Vanessa Bryant spoke out for the first time while Los Angeles stands ready to accommodate thousands of mourners.

Comments: 46

  1. Mr. Bryant, as an NBA player and a businessman, would have had contracts littered with statements defining the conditions when he would play or do business. Everything from the playing surface to the shoes he wore included, at some point, qualitative and quantitative measures to protect his safety and his investments. His personal fortune allowed him to engage in civil aviation where he failed to implement the same approach he used in his other endeavors. He apparently owned the aircraft and would have had total control over the conditions in which he was flown in it, everything from its condition to the qualifications and ability of his pilots. He arguably managed risk everywhere but where it counted most, when his life was on the line. Note that LAPD, and doubtlessly other aviation agencies, were not flying that morning because of established minimum criteria defining the conditions under which they will fly: if they are not met, the fleet is grounded. TAWS may or may not have allowed the pilot to avoid disaster but a simple contractual clause mandating that Bryant's pilots follow LAPD minimum guidelines would have. Some things are just that simple.

  2. Except the LAPD’s helicopters are probably not anywhere near the technology, quality or cost of Kobe’s helicopter. I read where his helicopter could fly to 6k feet! I suspect that the pilot did not want to use IVR because then he’d have to land at an airport and not the stadium. He was trying to accommodate his client which cost him his life but also 8 others.

  3. @Eric Lamar And some things aren't that simple. He leased the helicopter; he didn't own it. I can't second guess what did, or did not do or know or realize. The man is dead along with his daughter, and seven other people. It's a horrible shame and waste of lives. And sometimes we just never know what transpired. But I would at least wait a month before passing judgement on what he did, didn't do, or could have done.

  4. He was headed to an airport—Camarillo. That was always the plan. It was pilot error.

  5. Wasn't the helicopter attempting to climb to see over the fog and then abruptly went into a descent? It sounds more like a case of becoming disoriented in the fog and not knowing which way is up than a problem with flying into terrain. A warning about an impending crash might not be much use if the pilot doesn't know the helicopter's attitude or altitude.

  6. I suspect that we have all made similar bad judgment calls because we prioritize being on time for work, a sporting event, a social gathering, a convention, a meeting—the list is nearly endless—above our own safety and well-being. Surely, we can easily imagine the adult passengers urging the helicopter pilot to ensure the children’s timely arrival at the basketball tournament, just as easily as we can imagine ourselves doing the same thing in a similar situation. Showing up at a point determined by the arbitrary position of hands on a dial is so important that, in the moment, all other considerations pale by comparison. Those of us who have taken risks and gotten lucky in our race against time should especially refrain from judging any bad calls we think Kobe Bryant might have made on Sunday.

  7. I don’t at all agree that we all have made risky choices in order to be on time. That statement assumes that there is a lack of common sense that is somehow universal. A basketball game is not something to take risks in order to arrive on time!! Especially when children are involved. And to think that all the other 8 people died in addition to the boss because they all felt that he would “take care of things”...

  8. The game was at noon. They weren’t rushed. The pilot panicked in fog. Ascended to 2,600 feet to try to get above it and hit cloud cover. Rather than keep ascending he descended, at 178 mph. We might never know why. Other commenters are knowledgeable as pilots themselves. He wasn’t flying by instruments. That was the problem

  9. @Lauren Ostrow I believe Drusilla is saying that (all?) people make mistakes sometimes whereas it feels you're saying there are people who never mistakes when it comes to safety. I'm with Drusilla on this. When we drive in bad weather, etc. we assume a greater risk than normal. Even when you fly in bad weather, the risk is greater. So when do you draw the line and are you always so perfect that you never make a mistake in terms of judgement? Wow is all I can say to that. My view is that it probably looked okay when they started. But then they got into a situation they couldn't get out of. Sounds like they assumed they were higher than they actually were.

  10. This is just another safety versus profit story aka the Boeing 737 Max. And it has the same awful outcome. It has become fairly obvious they US regulators are far too cozy with the very industries and companies they are supposed to regulate. Whether it’s an option for 2 sensors on the Max (which should obviously be standard equipment, not an upgrade) or installing the TWAS system in commercial helicopters, money always trumps safety and that should seriously concern people.

  11. Trickling of information serves no one. LA Times is reporting his path veered off usual path. That has nothing to do with warning system. Investigators need to look at all variables --we don't need to here little piece by little piece--the big picture will take time and until then--let's celebrate the time Kobe had.

  12. More often, the simplest explanation is correct i.e. poor judgment. Piloting a helicopter in thick fog is possible, but risky. Humans, particularly males, are limited in their ability to assess risk in a rational manner. The details matter but what is obvious is that this tragedy was avoidable.

  13. @Daniel B - this brings to mind John Kennedy's piloting in poor weather. So tragic.

  14. The S-76 is an exceptionally capable helicopter, twin-engined and Instrument Flight Rules-capable. The S-76 is a popular choice for corporations because of it's reputation and performance. Corporate flying (versus, say, airline flying) places unique 'pressures' on the pilot. Airlines have a dispatch function that makes go/no-go decisions for the flight, whereas in corporate flying the responsibility for 'dispatch' typically rests with the flight crew: ie, getting a weather brief, planning & filing a flight plan, etc. Of course, there is the potential pressure from the 'boss' to get the passengers to the destination on time. Nevertheless, corporate pilots have to be ready to say "No" to the boss when safety indicates otherwise. In this case, I have to ask why the crew chose to fly VFR underneath the clouds (ie, "Visual Flight Rules") rather than file an IFR (ie, "Instrument Flight Rules") flight plan and legally and safely fly through the clouds. Per press reports, apparently the pilot asked for and received a "Special VFR" clearance as they neared Van Nuys. This special clearance from air traffic control permits an aircraft to fly in somewhat less than optimum VFR visibility provided the pilot maintains clearance from clouds and has visibility at all times. The responsibility for maintaining visual flight during an SVFR clearance rests solely with the pilot. (Offered as background from an airline-transport rated airplane & commercial-rated helo pilot.)

  15. The federal aviation regulations permit special VFR flight. I think its best we wait to see what the enroute weather was before concluding that the pilot was required to file an IFR flight plan. Based on the widely held assumption the helicopter crashed into a mountain due to poor visibility, its now clear he should have filed an IFR flight plan- but hindsight is 20/20. ( submitted by a trial lawyer, ex airline pilot and flight instructor)

  16. It was lovely to hear that Kobe Bryant was a practicing Catholic. Apparently he and his wife also did a lot of good works for the less fortunate. He not only talked the talk he walked the walk. I am sure he and his daughter are in the comforting hands of God. May they Rest In Peace.

  17. @KMW - As a Catholic who has wandered away, I hope the Bryant family finds it comforting that some of Kobe’s last moments were spent in contemplation at the church in which he was apparently an active member. I hope it brought him some peace and that his and his daughter’s last moments, as well as the last moments of everyone on that helicopter, were without fear as much as possible. I hope all the families find comfort in knowing that so many around the world are thinking of them during this unfortunate tragedy.

  18. Why is it I can’t watch the videos that you have embedded in this article? I still remember Roberto Clemente’s death along with Thurman Munson.

  19. Does anyone know how much it costs to lease or own this type of helicopter? With all the reporting about this accident I find it hard believe no one has reported on that. Mr. Bryant seemed to use this copter often. It could fit up to 12 people. I have never seen a helicopter that could fit more than 4 people.

  20. When weather was too bad for seaplanes, I rode such a helicopter with Canadian legislators from Vancouver BC to Victoria.mThey can be used safely with certain navigation equipment.

  21. We don't know what happened--maybe we will in the future. Nine people lost their lives in an accident--and that hurts. Accidents happen so frequently in the U.S., and most never make the news. Pedestrians are struck and killed by vehicles about every two hours in the United States. I know that statistic for reasons I wish I didn't. Vehicle accidents between vehicles, vehicles striking cyclists, farm vehicle accidents, accidents on barges, accidents involving private planes, helicopters, or less frequently, commercial aircraft, lead to countless deaths that we never hear about or pay much attention to unless a celebrity or a child is involved. A common element in the list I've written (it's not exhaustive) is the machinery we have invented to move humans about. Most of the time, these machines are great conveniences that make our lives full and rich, but they are not without their risks. Accidents are reminders to all of us that we cannot always be too safe or too guarded when we opt to drive ourselves or have ourselves transported. Around here in the midwest, we frequently drive on icy roadways, and I always ask "why?" What is wrong with us? And yet I still drive on ice. I will be the last person to wonder why someone flies in fog, given how many times I have driven in fog in CA and the midwest both. Obviously, I've always made it home. Nine didn't on Sunday. I have lost two sibs to accidents. I miss them. My heart goes out to everyone who loved these nine souls.

  22. I wish more articles, in addition to saying cherish your loved ones, would say don't take stupid risks particularly when other people's safety is relying upon it. it's akin to don't drink and drive, but no one (including those close to him) seems to be willing enough to advance that precaution, even with a caveat of waiting for reports to be completed.

  23. "Kobe Bryant Live Updates" Seems like an inappropriate title.

  24. I watched the news conference where the NTSB spokesperson, Jennifer Homendy indicated that the decent rate of the helicopter was "...over 2,000 feet per minute", indicating that's why the impact was so devastating. Well, 2,000 feet per minute is only 22.7mph. Did Ms. Homendy misspeak, or am I missing something here?

  25. @Bruce Imagine driving at 22.7mph straight into a brick wall in a passenger compartment much less substantial than a car and then exploding. "Devastating" has no precise mathematical definition, but that sounds pretty devastating to me.

  26. @Bruce It is perhaps misleading to attribute the devastation of the crash to the rate of descent; its speed of 150+mph was clearly a big factor. That said, 2k feet per minute is way too speedy a descent if terra firma is involved.

  27. The pilot was the pilot in command . He had the sole responsibility for the the safety of that flight in all aspects of it regarding the pilot ,the aircraft ,environmental, external pressures( pave) . He was complacent and downright irresponsible by not filing or picking up an ifr plan or if the helicopter was not ifr approved( we don’t know yet) not to fly . Atc mention when he was transitioning Vannuys that clouds were at 1100 but he said he still accepted sfvr and that he was at 1400 .He was asked by the controller if he could still manage sfvr and confirmed that he could . It’s a bit disconcerting when some news outlets are sensationalizing it and saying not having TAWS would have help prevent it when the pilot had the final decision not to do that flight or the least least pick up ifr . It just caused 8 lives to perish .

  28. I am an American expatriate in Italy. A few years ago I did a project with my classes on Kobe Bryan - we learned about his life story and listened to him speaking in his beautiful Italian. He was a model of self-discipline, on the court at 5:30 practicing by himself, and generosity of spirit. Italy regards Kobe as one of its own and his loss is being deeply felt here. I hope that his family can take some consolation from the fact that the whole world misses him.

  29. “Model of self discipline”?? He paid off the woman who accused him of rape.

  30. @Christina So true!!!!! he was extremely disciplined. I pray for all of the families!

  31. @Steve Because that was the cheapest way out of that situation. He was never charged and convicted because there was no evidence.

  32. What a beautiful statement from Vanessa Bryant. I cannot imagine what she is going through, and having to bury her husband and one of her daughters is a tragedy for which there are no words. This loss will impact her for the rest of her life. I hope she and her surviving children can find comfort in the memories of their husband/father and daughter/sister as they move through the coming days, months, and years. What a loss for them all, truly.

  33. I'm sorry for your loss. But I have to ask...why is your loss more important than any others?

  34. @Gj she never said it was - but there’s an outpouring of emotion and support that she clearly felt compelled to respond to. Kobe was an icon, whether you agree he should have been or not, and the fact his daughter along with so many others perished brings home some uncomfortable truths to many: life is unpredictable, regardless of your resources - and you’re never a few mistakes away from death. People, I think, are grieving that as much as the loss of Kobe, his daughter and friends.

  35. Terribly sad and worst, probably unnecessary because they shouldn't have been up in that fog. Similar to the loss of JFK Jr. and perhaps Sen. Heinz as well. Somehow famous and important people either take or are allowed to take foolish chances that often have tragic results. May they all rest in peace and condolences to the families left behind.

  36. Maybe this incident will make other pilots think twice before taking unnecessary risks...

  37. Although ill-timed, I am heartened that the journalist Felicia Sonmez was reinstated after raising concerns about Kobe Bryant's sexual assault allegations in 2004. Although this crash was tragic, so were the possible misdeeds from his past.

  38. This is a terrible and totally avoidable accident. Let's keep in mind that these people were going to a girl's basketball game. What a waste of life and resources. For what?

  39. How about when he paid off his accuser in CO? Is everyone really just letting that go because the fool crashed a private helicopter?

  40. @Steve If there had been any evidence he'd have been convicted. He wasn't. And almost every story I've seen about this mentions it. So how is "everyone...letting that go"? The "accuser", some would say money seeker, let it go a long time ago. Do you always walk through the world looking back over your shoulder?

  41. Evidence didn’t have anything to do with it: there was no trial because the accuser “decided not to testify.” And why was that? We may never know, but Bryant’s legal team was defending him zealously, which meant going after his accuser aggressively. Maybe she had simply had enough. In the final analysis, he wasn’t convicted, but neither was he acquitted. Only two people knew what happened that night, and one of them is no longer with us. I mean no disrespect to a man who, by all accounts, did wonderful things in the years since 2003, and became a committed father, husband, and philanthropist. And, as a Christian, I believe in redemption and second chances. But this is part of his story, too.

  42. Life's end is death.

  43. If Mr. Bryant had been convicted of rape in Colorado and served a substantial prison term— He most likely would never have had the lifestyle he's had and been spinning around in expensive helicopters.

  44. It's nice that Kobe sat at the back of the church so as not to distract the others. Especially nowadays where you have so many famous people photographing themselves attending "celebrity" churches where it's all about the appearance of piety and the "gospel of prosperity" (ie., twisting Christianity into saying god wants you to be rich).

  45. Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant is with us no more. The good do die young sometimes, that's for sure. He was a basketball hero in LA. He always played the game hard, that was his way. An NBA legend he will forever be. Always an inspiration to people like you and me.

  46. When we first met I was just a kid. Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t. But all of you helped me become the player and man in front of you today. You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use. Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong. You witnessed my fears morph into strength. Your rejection taught me courage. Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker. What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you. I knew that each minute of each game that I wore purple and gold. I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season. My love for this city, this team, and for each of you will never fade. Thank you for this incredible journey. Kobe Bryant