(WJW) — It was exactly one year ago today when NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed when their helicopter plunged into a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California; the former Lakers star was 41.
VANESSA BRYANT REMEMBERS
On the anniversary, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, Vanessa Bryant, posted a letter to Instagram sent to her from one of Gianna’s friends.
“I hope that in the midst of your intense sadness you catch a glimpse of joy in who the daughter you created and raised was,” the letter said. “You did it right Mrs. Bryant, and we are all eternally grateful to you.”
In her post, Vanessa Bryant wrote, “I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too. I will never understand why/how this tragedy couldn’t happened to such beautiful, kind and amazing human beings. It still doesn’t seem real. Kob, we did it right. Gigi, you still make mommy proud. I love you!”
The Bryants had three other daughters: Natalia, 18; Bianka, 4; and Capri Kobe, 1.
LEBRON JAMES ON HIS FRIEND: ‘LEGENDS NEVER DIE’
On Monday, the Lakers traveled to Cleveland where the team defeated the Cavaliers on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Bryant’s tragic death.
The Cavaliers paid tribute to Bryant in a video that highlighted his time playing at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
“As devastating and tragic as it was, and it still is, to all of us involved with it, only time and it takes time,” James said.
“Everyone has their own grieving process. Everyone understands that. Everyone individually is different and everyone is going to grieve differently. And how long it takes them to come to grips with it that’s up to them and that individual. All you can do as a friend or a loved one, or anyone in our brotherhood and our family-hood that we have here in the Lakers organization is to put our arms around someone when they need it.”
“There’s a lot of things that die in this world,” James said. “But legends never die, and he’s exactly that.”
On Tuesday, the Lakers’ family will have painful memories awakened by the loss of Bryant, whose passing shook their organization, the NBA and sports world.
Knowing that Bryant’s anniversary will be emotional for everyone, Lakers coach Frank Vogel is giving his players the day off to allow them to better manage their grief and honor their late teammate Bryant “how they see fit.”
“It’s not a day remembrance like his birthday,” Vogel said. “It’s more of a somber-tone-type-of-day.”
The Lakers are spending the night in Cleveland before flying to Philadelphia — Bryant’s hometown — on Tuesday. They play the 76ers on Wednesday.
HELIPCOPTER SAFETY BILL REINTRODUCED
On the eve of the anniversary of the helicopter crash that kill Bryant, his daughter and seven others, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) reintroduced the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The bill would require terrain awareness and warning systems on all helicopters that carry six or more passengers. Despite a 2006 National Transportation Safety Board recommendation that such equipment be mandatory on all helicopters, the Federal Aviation Administration, which sets flight rules, only requires it on helicopter air ambulances, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Despite a personal plea from Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow and Gianna’s mother, lawmakers did not pass the legislation last year, KTLA reported.
The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release its final report on the cause of the crash on Feb. 9., USA Today reported.
The NTSB previously released more than 1800 pages of evidence collected during its investigation.
The official cause of the deadly crash will likely be a combination of adverse weather and pilot error, the New York Daily News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.