What Exactly Led to the Kobe Bryant Crash That Changed the NBA Forever?

Published 11/24/2021, 6:30 AM EST


Kobe Bryant, one of the most significant figures in the world of basketball, tragically passed away in January 2020. Athletes, executives, and others associated with the NBA poured in their tributes to Kobe. They posthumously inducted him into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Kobe’s demise in the helicopter crash remains one of the NBA’s critical moments.

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What were the causes behind Kobe Bryant’s plane crash?

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The National Transportation Safety Board conducted an inquiry into the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash. They published the results of their inquiry, causing considerable public outrage. The 86 page report subsequently found pilot error to be the major cause of the crash. The NTSB board also called for safety upgrades to prevent such mishaps in the future.

The report implies that the pilot made a “poor decision” flying at “excessive airspeed” while in an area of poor visibility. The speed of 160 miles per hour and losing visual contact with the ground led to the pilot losing control of the helicopter.

Blaming “self-induced pressure” the NTSB suggested that the pilots’ desire to complete the flight in spite of poor visibility to satisfy his superstar client, Kobe Bryant, is also a major factor.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant receives the NBA Most Valuable Player trophy from comissioner David Stern prior to game two of the Western Conference semifinal at Staples Center. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The NTSB report, however, ruled out any mechanical errors in engines and controls in the helicopter. Air traffic controllers also received a clean chit despite one error which remained inconsequential on the crash. It also absolved the charter company of blame, as they supposedly refrained from applying pressure on the pilot to fly in poor conditions.

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Did anyone survive the Kobe Bryant crash?

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Kobe’s tragic death occurred on January 26, 2020, when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed into a California hillside. Including Kobe, the helicopter carried nine people on board. Kobe’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, also passed away in the crash. Of the nine people on board, none survived.

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Vanessa Bryant, former NBA Player Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant and Gianna Bryant attend the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca Talks: Storytellers: Kobe Bryant with Glen Keane at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Sagliocco/FilmMagic)

The nine people on board suffered immediate fatal injuries. They reportedly died in an instant due to blunt trauma. 13-year-old Gianna donned a jersey with ‘Mamba’ on the front. Kobe is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant, and daughters Natalia Bianka and Capri Bryant.

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The 2008 NBA MVP was a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and had announced his retirement in 2016.

Watch this story: A Broken Index Finger, A Torn Ligament & Other Injuries Kobe Bryant Endured But Continued to Play Through

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Shalom Saldanha

131 articles

Shalom Saldanha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his journalism degree, he has previously worked as a sports corresspondent for India Shorts/Business Upturn. A Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bucks fan, Shalom primarily got into the sport after discovering that he shared a mutual love for Arsenal with the 'Greek Freak'.

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