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Basketball legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash on the morning of January 26. He was killed along with his daughter Gianna and several other people on a hillside in Calabasas, California.

Bryant’s tragic death has brought up a lot of questions about the safety of helicopters, and some fans might be shocked to know that Bryant himself already might have seen this coming. In fact, because Bryant knew that they could be dangerous, he had a pact with his wife, Vanessa Bryant, when it comes to riding helicopters.

Kobe Bryant enjoyed flying on helicopters to escape L.A. traffic

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant | Donato Sardella/Getty Images for EIF

Kobe Bryant was a long-time fan of helicopters because the traffic in Los Angeles is known to be extremely bad. At some point, while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, he realized that he could not be wasting time in traffic if he wanted to spend more time with his children.

In an interview with Alex Rodriguez in 2018, Bryant shared: “I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play, because I was sitting in traffic. … I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. So that’s when I looked into helicopters and be able to get down and back in 15 minutes.”

Bryant lived in Orange County with his family and because of helicopters, he could afford to quickly fly back and forth between his work in Los Angeles and home in Orange County. He was able to pick his children up from school and have quality time with them.

Kobe Bryant and his wife had a deal to never fly on helicopters together

Even though Bryant flew on helicopters often, he and his wife of almost 19 years, Vanessa, tried to never go on one at the same time. A source told People recently of Bryant: “He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together.” The report did not elaborate on why he had this pact with his wife.

Of course, the couple has actually been on a helicopter together at least once. On Valentine’s Day 2015, they shared photos of themselves on a romantic date that involved a helicopter ride. In one shot, the two of them could be seen smiling next to an aircraft. In another photo, they were seen sitting inside a helicopter.

The source also added the NBA star exclusively wrote in helicopters piloted by Ara Zobayan — the pilot in the fatal crash who was also killed in the tragic accident.

That said, Molly Carter, president of Kobe Inc., issued a statement that suggests the People report may be incorrect. “To this point, no one has been authorized to speak on behalf of the family regarding any personal details surrounding Sunday’s tragedy, including stories related to the family’s previous air travel decisions,” Carter said. 

Whether Carter is referring to the so-called pact when she notes “air travel decisions” is unclear.

Kobe Bryant was a family man

It’s clear to many fans by now that Bryant was a man who cared a lot about his wife and children.

In fact, Bryant’s friend Derek Jeter emphasized this in a tribute for Bryant in the Player’s Tribune. Jeter wrote: “All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had — they were always about family.”

“Here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands,” Jeter continued. “And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn’t really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls.”

Following Bryant’s death, it was also revealed that he had been trying to make plans for his daughter Gianna’s future. Gianna was a gifted basketball player like her father, and she was given the nickname “Mambacita,” which is a reference to Bryant’s nickname: “Black Mamba.”

According to TMZ, before Bryant passed away, he filed paperwork to trademark “Mambacita” and detailed his intentions to use the name on things like hoodies, sweatshirts, shirts, hats, and jerseys.