/Kobe Bryant was a living legend. In his final hours, he was an ordinary dad and friend – CNN

Kobe Bryant was a living legend. In his final hours, he was an ordinary dad and friend – CNN

Droplets of holy water shone on the forehead of one of the most recognizable faces in sports as he made his way through the chapel before the early Mass last Sunday at the parish in Newport Beach, California.

Kobe Bryant, 41, an 18-time All Star who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, shook hands with Father Steve Sallot and asked about making his confirmation, a sacrament that would solidify his commitment to the Catholic Church.
It would have been hard to not notice one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But Bryant had always tried to pass as just another one of the faithful,
often sitting in a rear pew so he didn’t distract from the solemn priority at hand.
That unforgettable day began with Bryant stopping for a
moment of prayer and reflection. It would end in a violent crush of metal and flames.
Bryant, his
13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others
perished Sunday, January 26, in the distant hills of Calabasas. The high-speed impact unleashed shock waves across the globe.

Gianna seen as heir to an unmatched legacy

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After a glittering, straight-out-of-high-school 20-year NBA career, Bryant was often seen with Gianna — a talented young player — at basketball games. Convinced
she too was bound for glory, he saw the second of
his four daughters — along with Natalia, Bianka and Capri — with wife Vanessa Laine Bryant as heir to his greatness.

Last Sunday, Bryant was to coach Gianna’s Lady Mambas team against the Fresno Lady Heat at his Mamba Sports Academy in the northern Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks. The Mamba Cup tournament had already begun, featuring boys’ and girls’ teams from third through eighth grades.

Gianna had her father’s competitive streak. An aspiring WNBA player, she often took issue with strangers’ suggestion that her dad and mom needed a son to uphold the Bryant legacy.

“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,'” Bryant said in during a 2018
appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” “I’m like, that’s right. Yes, you do, you got this.”
The day before the Fresno game, a
basketball- and Kobe-obsessed 13-year-old named Brady Smigiel had played in the Mamba Cup with his twin brother, Beau. Beyond the court, the youngster had committed — at some point during tournament play — to securing a selfie with his idol.

But Gianna’s travel team had just lost its first Saturday game, 46-29. And Bryant’s signature hate-to-lose mentality was evident.

“Kobe was mad they lost,” Brady told his mother.

The NBA legend wouldn’t mug for Brady’s camera. But he raised his hand, balled up a fist and bumped knuckles — a young player’s dream come true.

The Lady Mambas won their second game that day. Afterward, their coach milled around off court. Brady got close. He flashed a broad grin, positioned his lens and — click — managed a blurry selfie with a towering Bryant in the background.

The all star-turned-prep coach again didn’t stop, Smigiel recalled. But he knew what Brady really wanted.

Bryant addressed her son: “We’ll get a better pic tomorrow.”

Brady Smigiel, 13, captured this photo of Kobe Bryant on Saturday.Brady Smigiel, 13, captured this photo of Kobe Bryant on Saturday.

James and Bryant have a final conversation

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Hours later, Bryant was on Twitter, congratulating Lakers superstar LeBron James for passing him as the
third highest scorer in NBA history with 33,655 points. Bryant had scored 33,643 points in his brilliant pro career.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,”
he tweeted. “Much respect my brother.”

It was in Philadelphia, where Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, that James became the game’s third highest scorer.

On Instagram, Bryant posted a photo with James: “On to #2. Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next.”

But social media could not contain their adoration. These two men — pillars of their profession, cultural touchstones, with names already inked into history — had to talk.

“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA,” LeBron wrote later on Instagram, referring to a congratulatory call from Bryant. “Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”

Bryant used helicopters like most take Ubers

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= false,isVideoReplayClicked = false,callbackObj,containerEl,currentVideoCollection = [],currentVideoCollectionId = ”,isLivePlayer = false,mediaMetadataCallbacks,mobilePinnedView = null,moveToNextTimeout,mutePlayerEnabled = false,nextVideoId = ”,nextVideoUrl = ”,turnOnFlashMessaging = false,videoPinner,videoEndSlateImpl;if (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === false) {autoStartVideo = false;if (autoStartVideo === true) {if (turnOnFlashMessaging === true) {autoStartVideo = false;containerEl = jQuery(document.getElementById(configObj.markupId));CNN.VideoPlayer.showFlashSlate(containerEl);} else {CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = true;}}}configObj.autostart = CNN.Features.enableAutoplayBlock ? false : autoStartVideo;CNN.VideoPlayer.setPlayerProperties(configObj.markupId, autoStartVideo, isLivePlayer, isVideoReplayClicked, mutePlayerEnabled);CNN.VideoPlayer.setFirstVideoInCollection(currentVideoCollection, configObj.markupId);videoEndSlateImpl = new CNN.VideoEndSlate(‘body-text_36’);function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.disable();}}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {var playerInstance,containerClassId = ‘#’ + containerId;CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (CNN.Features.enableMobileWebFloatingPlayer &&Modernizr &&(Modernizr.phone || Modernizr.mobile || Modernizr.tablet) &&CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId) === ‘fave’ &&jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length > 0 &&CNN.contentModel.pageType === ‘article’) {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId);mobilePinnedView = new CNN.MobilePinnedView({element: jQuery(containerClassId),enabled: false,transition: CNN.MobileWebFloatingPlayer.transition,onPin: function () {playerInstance.hideUI();},onUnpin: function () {playerInstance.showUI();},onPlayerClick: function () {if (mobilePinnedView) {playerInstance.enterFullscreen();playerInstance.showUI();}},onDismiss: function() {CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer.disable();playerInstance.pause();}});/* Storing pinned view on CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer So that all players can see the single pinned player */CNN.Videx = CNN.Videx || {};CNN.Videx.mobile = CNN.Videx.mobile || {};CNN.Videx.mobile.pinnedPlayer = mobilePinnedView;}if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},onContentEntryLoad: function(containerId, playerId, contentid, isQueue) {CNN.VideoPlayer.showSpinner(containerId);},onContentPause: function (containerId, playerId, videoId, paused) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === ‘object’ &&FAVE.Utils.os === ‘iOS’ && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreEpicAds’);}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–active’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’);}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘removeEpicAds’);}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreFreewheel’);}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);