Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26

By Helen Murphy
February 08, 2020 05:45 PM
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Kobe Bryant spoke lovingly about his family during one of his last interviews.

On Saturday, The Los Angeles Times published audio from columnist Arash Markazi’s last interview with the late basketball star, who died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

The interview, which was conducted on October 21, 2019, covered a wide range of topics, including Bryant’s youth sports efforts and his Mamba Sports Academy. The athlete also spoke about wanting to spend more time with his family, as well as Gianna’s skills on the court.

“What I love about Gigi is her curiosity about the game,” Bryant said of his daughter, who was also a basketball player. “She’s very curious. Even in a heated situation in a game where it’s going back and forth, she can detach herself and come over to me and ask a very specific question, which is not common.”

Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty

“She’ll come over and say, ‘Okay, on this particular trap here when I’m trying to close the gap but she’s getting on the outside, do I need to change my angle?’ Like, very specific questions,” he continued. “All of our girls can do that, but that’s the part that I think is most exciting … her curiosity and her ability to think critically in tight situations is just pretty damn cool.”

The former Los Angeles Lakers star also explained why he chose not to attend many Lakers games after retirement, saying he’d rather spend time with his family — wife Vanessa Bryant, and daughters Gianna, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born in June 2019.

“I have my routine at home,” Bryant said. “It’s not that I don’t want to go, but I’d rather be giving B.B. a shower and singing Barney songs to her. I’ve gone through 20 years and the majority of my career with my kids Natalia and Gianna not being able to have that consistency.”

Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant with their children
| Credit: Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

Bryant continued: “For me to make the trip up to Staples Center, that means I’m missing an opportunity to spend another night with my kids and I know how fast it goes. Natalia’s 16, Gianna’s 13. That time came and went. I want to make sure the days that I’m away from them are days that I absolutely have to be. I’d rather be with them than doing anything else.”

Earlier this week, a jersey retirement ceremony was held at Gianna’s school. Vanessa, 37, shared a slew of photos and videos from the ceremony on Instagram, including one that showed a red floral arrangement of the number 2 — which Gianna proudly wore on the back of her Mamba Sports Academy jersey — alongside a smiling photograph of the teenager.

“My Gianna,” Vanessa wrote alongside the image. “God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1.”

A public memorial service at the Staples Center is scheduled for Feb. 24. The event will also honor the seven victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash: John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.

The date holds special significance for the Bryant family: Gianna wore jersey No. 2 at the Mamba Sports Academy, and Bryant wore No. 24 in the latter half of his career.

If you would like to help the families of the victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba Sports Foundation will help support youth sports