PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The sports world is remembering Kobe Bryant on the one-year anniversary of his death. Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, shared a moving letter that was written by one of her late-daughter Gianna’s best friends on Instagram.
“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,” Vanessa wrote. “My Gigi is INCREDIBLE and I truly appreciate your thoughtful letter. She loves you so much. 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 Philadelphia Eagles posted on Twitter remembering the NBA legend.
“#MambaForever,” the Eagles tweeted.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 26, 2021
Bryant, a Lower Merion native, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26, 2020.
The helicopter crashed on a steep hillside in dense morning fog, which left other helicopters grounded. The impact scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and killed all aboard.
The sudden death of the 41-year-old who transcended basketball left the sports world devastated.
Within hours of the crash, the area outside Los Angeles’s Staple Center began transforming into a massive memorial as countless mourners gathering from across the country.
Bryant played his entire professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 2016.
The Los Angeles Lakers wore “Black Mamba” jerseys to commemorate Bryant and his daughter several times during last year’s victorious playoff and NBA finals run.
One year later, Bryant’s Lakers family is still grappling with the void left behind.
“There’s a lot of things that die in this world, but legends never die and he’s exactly that,” LeBron James said.
In the Philadelphia area, fans went to Lower Merion High School to mourn the loss of Bryant.
“I came here as soon as I could to pay my final respects to Kobe Bryant,” fan Yonnas Getachew said.
These are the tributes, written on ordinary “thank you” notes, remembering Lower Merion’s Kobe Bryant tonight. “The way you lived, played, worked was as Philly as it gets.” @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/WnAPUwlIBX
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) January 27, 2020
Bryant’s former high school coach, Gregg Downer, was overwhelmed with grief after receiving news of Kobe’s death.
“I truly believe a lot of kids lost their hero and a grown man named Coach Downer lost his also,” Downer said. “We were hoping and praying this was all a bad joke or dream. As reality set in, I broke down in the middle of my kitchen.”
In the days after Kobe’s death, tributes in the form of murals began to appear across Los Angeles. More than 240 Kobe murals have since been painted throughout the city.
But beyond tributes and memorials, questions remain about the crash and it’s cause.
There was thick fog at the crash site. The NTSB immediately started its investigation.
The FAA currently does not require helicopters, like the one Bryant was aboard, to have a terrain awareness and warning system — or “TAWS.” It’s a device that helps prevent pilots from crashing.
Bryant’s helicopter also was not required to have a black box.
The NTSB’s report on the crash is due Feb. 9.
Since it was such a high-profile crash, many are hopeful the equipment will become mandatory.
CBS Los Angeles identified the other victims as Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, Harbor Day School basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her middle school-aged daughter Payton, and pilot Ara Zobayan.
“It was the most surreal days,” Tony Altobelli, John’s brother, said. “It was one of the worst days obviously ever, but in a weird way the love and support I got that day from so many people, I’ll remember that part of the day too. It was equally special as it was tragic.”