“Traffic started getting really, really bad,” the late basketball legend, 41, who died in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26, told Alex Rodriguez and Dan “Big Cat” Katz at the time. “I was sitting in traffic and wound up missing, like, the school play because I was sitting in traffic. These things just kept mounting. And I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft, but still not compromise family time. That’s when I looked into helicopters to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes, and that’s how it started. So my routine was always the same. Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do, fly back, get back in the carpool line, pick my kids up.”
The story behind why Kobe flew in a private helicopters in LA 💔 pic.twitter.com/0jeB9qCpHd
— Tequila Taze (@TazerBlack) January 27, 2020
Even though his wife, Vanessa Bryant, offered to pick up the little ones, the Olympic athlete turned down the offer. “I was like, ‘No, no, no, I want to do that,’” the late Los Angeles Lakers player said. “You have road trips and times when you don’t see your kids, so every chance I get to see them and spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in a car, I want that.”
The Philadelphia native’s private chopper crashed in Calabasas, California, on Sunday and caught fire, killing all nine passengers onboard, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. He and the teenager are survived by Vanessa, 37, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
The late father-daughter pair were on their way to Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, ahead of a game. The Wizenard Series: Training Camp creator coached Gianna’s Athletic Amateur Union team.
He opened up about their dynamic in 2018, telling Entertainment Tonight: “Gianna’s pretty easy to coach. We haven’t had any issues of a dad-daughter sort of thing. She’s very competitive and she’s a hard worker, so there haven’t been any issues with that.”
The former shooting guard retired from the NBA in 2016 after 20 seasons and five championships.