We Now Know What Kobe And Gianna Did Before Boarding The Helicopter

Fans are still reeling from the news of the tragic helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, along with seven other people on Jan. 26, 2020. While the cause of the crash remains under investigation, updates about the situation continue to be released, including new information about Bryant's final hours with his daughter.

According to a report from the Daily Mail, Bryant and Gianna attended a 7 a.m. Catholic mass and received communion on Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady Queen of the Angels in Newport Beach, Calif. Julie Hermes, a spokesperson for the church, told the Daily Mail that Bryant sat in the back to avoid disturbing other attendees when he slipped out to board the helicopter around 9 a.m. The pair was reportedly headed to Gianna's basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy, ESPN reported.

According to BuzzFeed, it was around 9:45 a.m. that the helicopter's last radar update was tracked. A brush fire resulting from the crash was reported to authorities just minutes later.

Kobe Bryant 'loved his faith'

Following the news of his death, Bishop Timothy Freye, who's currently in Rome to meet the Pope, wrote on Facebook about Kobe Bryant's dedication to his faith. "Kobe was an icon who inspired us through his words and actions to set our goals, work hard and achieve our dreams. He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith," Freye wrote. "A longtime Orange County resident and parishioner in our Diocese, Kobe would frequently attend Mass and sit in the back of the church so that his presence would not distract people from focusing on Christ's Presence."

Julia Hermes, the spokesperson for Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, told the Daily Mail, "[Bryant] was very much loved at the church, and he was very devout, very dedicated to his faith." She also told the U.K. publication that at the first mass following Bryant's passing, churchgoers were stunned and silenced by the news. "Every mass since has been dedicated to Kobe and the families of all the victims," she said, noting that he played a strong role in the community.

Faith got Kobe Bryant through his lowest points

Kobe Bryant's faith is something that's buoyed him in tough times. In a 2015 GQ profile, Bryant said he turned to religion when facing rape allegations in 2003. Bryant publicly apologized to the woman involved and recognized that "she did not and does not view this incident the same way [he] did." The case was ultimately settled out of court, and the terms remained confidential. "The one thing that really helped me during that process — I'm Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic — was talking to a priest," the retired athlete told GQ

Bryant recalled a conversation with a priest. "It was actually kind of funny: [The priest] looks at me and says, 'Did you do it?' And I say, 'Of course not.' Then he asks, 'Do you have a good lawyer?' And I'm like, 'Uh, yeah, he's phenomenal.' So then he just said, 'Let it go. Move on. God's not going to give you anything you can't handle, and it's in his hands now. This is something you can't control. So let it go.' And that was the turning point." 

Those allegations remain a charged topic to this day, but it's clear that religion played a role in the way Bryant dealt with the case.

Kobe Bryant's final day included another love of his: basketball

Not only was Kobe Bryant on his way to one of his daughter Gianna's basketball games when the helicopter crashed, but he spent the day prior watching her play the sport as well. TMZ published photos of the 41-year-old sitting court-side and giving Gianna a pep talk.

Those basketball games were at the Mamba Sports Academy, which Bryant co-founded. Per the description on the academy's website, it's "a full-circle facility designed to update the way men, women and youth approach human performance, by creating a multi-platform environment that activates, educates and provides an opportunity for humans to unlock their full potential." The institution embraces the "Mamba Mentality," described on the website as "pairing intent and focus in performance training with a sports psychology and cognition training infrastructure that creates a pathway to be better today than you were yesterday."

As tragic as the news of his death may be, his final days were filled with family, basketball, and faith — three of the things closest to his heart.