11 Of The Most Tragic Celebrity Deaths In Recent History

Published September 27, 2022
Updated September 29, 2022

The Devastating Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant And His Daughter

Kobe Bryant

Allen Berezovsky/Getty ImagesKobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were both killed in a helicopter crash in 2020, making this recent celebrity death all the more tragic.

Among the celebrities who died recently, Kobe Bryant is among the most tragic. He was many things in his life. Most people likely recognize him as one of the greatest NBA players of all time, but off the court, the athlete was a philanthropist and a successful creative, with his script for the film Dear Basketball netting him an Academy Award in 2017.

Perhaps most importantly, though, Bryant was a loving father — up until the very end.

When Kobe Bryant boarded a helicopter on Jan. 6, 2020, he was accompanied by his daughter Gianna and several others, all heading to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, for Gianna’s basketball game.

But the helicopter never made it to Thousand Oaks.

Instead, after encountering dense, foggy conditions, the helicopter plummeted towards the Earth, crashing in Calabasas, California, roughly 30 miles from Los Angeles.

According to The New York Times, an assistant first informed Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa of the crash. At the time, they believed that five people had survived.

They hoped that Kobe and Gianna were among them.

Vanessa Bryant rushed from her home to the airport, attempting to secure a helicopter that would take her to the crash site, but it was in vain. No one would authorize a helicopter to transport her — the weather made it unsafe to fly.

It would later be revealed that no one had survived the crash. Kobe and Gianna Bryant, along with seven other passengers, died in the crash.

A year later, USA Today reported that when the pilot, Ara Zobayan, encountered foggy conditions, he attempted to fly over the clouds, hoping to reach an elevation of 4,000 feet. At only 1,600 feet, though, the helicopter began a rapid descent.

Jack Cress, a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot, told USA Today that the “combination of the low-lying stratus layer, and also the relatively high-rising terrain — it’s a common and, really, a deadly combination.”

Investigators have also tried to determine whether or not Zobayan had experienced a “somatogravic illusion,” a phenomenon in which gravitational forces confused the body in the absence of visual cues.

If this were the case, Zobayan could have felt that the helicopter was ascending even as it fell toward the hillside.

But no matter what the cause of the crash was, the impact it had on the world — and more importantly, those closest to Kobe Bryant — was monumental.

After the announcement of Bryant’s death, the Los Angeles Airport, the Empire State Building, and Burj Khalifa were lit in purple and yellow, the colors of Bryant’s team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

But affected most of all was Vanessa Bryant, who said, “My life will never be the same without my husband and daughter.”

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
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Harvey, Austin. "11 Of The Most Tragic Celebrity Deaths In Recent History." AllThatsInteresting.com, September 27, 2022, https://allthatsinteresting.com/recent-celebrity-deaths. Accessed June 22, 2024.