Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who perished this weekend in a helicopter accident, and his wife Vanessa had a pact to never fly on a helicopter together.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” a source told PEOPLE magazine on Monday.
According to the source, “Bryant ‘only’ flew in helicopters with pilot Ara Zobayan, who was among those killed in the crash,” the outlet reported.
“One of the biggest things he was looking forward to after retiring from the NBA [in 2016] was getting to spend more time with his family,” the source noted. “He was a very hands-on dad and, like any other father, saw such bright futures for all of his daughters.”
“He was so proud to see them take after not only him and Vanessa, but also grow into their own. He had a special bond with each of his daughters.”
On Sunday, Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others, including two of Gianna’s teammates, were tragically killed in a helicopter accident in California.
As noted by The Daily Wire on Monday, the former Laker explained in 2018 that he frequently traveled via helicopter so he could avoid notorious Los Angeles traffic, thus saving time so he could spend more moments with his children.
“Traffic started getting really, really bad and I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play, because I was sitting in traffic,” he said during a Barstool Sports podcast.
“I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time,” Bryant continued. “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.”
“You have like road trips and times where you don’t see your kids. So every chance I get to see them, to spend time with them — even if it’s 20 minutes in the car — I want that,” he added.
Bryant was a hands-on father, coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team. He was frequently spotted with his four daughters.
While paying tribute to Bryant on Monday, SportsCenter’s Elle Duncan became overcome with emotion describing the only time she met Bryant.
“I saw him and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Kobe,” recalled Duncan, according to E! News. “I’ve gotta get a picture for the ‘gram’ (Instagram). I didn’t get it for a few minutes because, as I approached him, he immediately commented on my rather large, eight month pregnant belly.”
“I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as though he quite famously had three at the time and he said, ‘Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,’” she said.
“He said that his wife Vanessa really wanted to try again for a boy but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl,” Duncan explained. “I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking? Like, what would you think? How would you feel?’ And without hesitation he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could.”
“I’m a girl dad,” Bryant proudly told the journalist.