(WJW) — It was exactly one year ago Tuesday that 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, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, and Gianna’s mother, 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, “Today I received this sweet letter from one of Gianna’s best friends, Aubrey. I love you Aubz (as my Gigi would call you). Thank you so much for beautifully sharing some of your memories of my Gigi with me and allowing me to share them here on my ig.”
She added, “I miss my baby girl and Kob-Kob so much, too. I will never understand why/how this tragedy could’ve 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 have three other daughters: Natalia, 18; Bianka, 4; and Capri Kobe, 1.
Lebron James: ‘Legends never die’
On Monday, the Lakers traveled to Cleveland, where the team defeated the Cavaliers on the eve of the one-year anniversary.
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.”
He added, “There’s a lot of things that die in this world. But legends never die, and he’s exactly that.”
Knowing that Bryant’s anniversary would be emotional for everyone, Lakers coach Frank Vogel gave his players Tuesday off to allow them to better manage their grief and honor their late teammate “how they see fit.”
“It’s not a day of remembrance like his birthday,” Vogel said. “It’s more of a somber-tone type of day.”
The Lakers were flying from Cleveland to Philadelphia — Bryant’s hometown — on Tuesday. They play the 76ers on Wednesday.
Helicopter safety bill reintroduced
On Monday, 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, 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.