Bryant lived in Newport Beach in Orange County but needed to commute to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles — a distance of about 45 miles — for practice and for games. In a 2018 interview, Bryant said he began using helicopters while still playing for the Lakers as a way to avoid getting stuck in traffic, and to be able to spend more time with his family. In addition to Gianna, Bryant had three other daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Kobe Bryant was very public about preferring to get around the vast Los Angeles metropolitan area by helicopter — but he and his wife “had a deal” that they would never ride in helicopters together, according to a report from People.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” a source told the magazine. The report didn’t offer an explanation for why the couple had this pact.
The same source also said that Bryant would “only” ride in helicopters flown by Ara Zobayan, who was at the controls Sunday when their chopper crashed north of Los Angeles in dense fog. All nine people aboard were killed, including the Los Angeles Lakers legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and Zobayan.
Bryant, 41, Gianna and the others were on their way to a youth basketball game at the time of the crash, according to ESPN.
“I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play,” Bryant told Alex Rodriguez in 2018 for the Barstool Sports podcast, “The Corp with A-Rod and Big Cat.”
“I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time,” Bryant said. “Traffic started getting really, really bad.”
“So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started,” he added.