What Charities Did Kobe Bryant Support?

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, were remembered in a public memorial at The Staples Center on Feb 24. The public memorial came nearly one month after the father and daughter, along with seven others, were killed in a horrific helicopter crash in Calabasas. The memorial focused on Bryant’s legacy on and off the court. While many might remember Bryant for his on-court moves, he was dedicated to his family and charity during his life, as well. So, what charities did Bryant support while he was alive?

Kobe Bryant’s favorite charities

Bryant and his wife created their own charity years ago. The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation offers enriching experiences to children and young adults both on United States soil and internationally. The charity has offered scholarships to athletes and sponsored a local youth soccer league for years. According to CNN The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation has also partnered with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Step Up on Second and My Friend’s Place, to combat homelessness in the Los Angeles area.

Kobe Bryant arrives at the An Unforgettable Evening Benefiting EIF's Women's Cancer Research Fund
Kobe Bryant | Steve Granitz/WireImage

Bryant worked closely with the Make a Wish Foundation, too. Bryant and the charity, which provides special experiences to children dealing with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, granted hundreds of wishes together. Henry Moore, who was the recipient of one such request, traveled to see a Lakers’ game more than 12 years ago. Moore, and his parents, noted that Bryant spent over an hour alone with them, introduced them to his own family, and was genuinely invested in Moore’s life. The now 20-year-old is far removed from the illness that led to his wish, but he remembers Bryant’s impact well, according to WDBJ.   

Vanessa Bryant offered a moving speech about her late husband and daughter

Bryant’s wife, and the mother of Gianna, took to the podium at The Staples Center to address the crowd of fans who descended on the arena to pay homage to all those lost in the crash. In a moving speech, Vanessa Bryant told the audience all about Bryant and Gianna. She noted that Gianna was the glue of their family and that while she was a confident and talented athlete, she was so much more than that. Vanessa also lamented sadly about what milestones Gianna, who was nicknamed, GiGi, would miss. She paid particular attention to GiGi’s basketball dreams. She reminded the audience that GiGi had dreams of playing in the WNBA, and that she had all it would haven taken to become the best player the league had ever seen.

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My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

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Vanessa also shared her memories of her husband with the crowd. While the pair had rough patches during their marriage, they both appeared committed to working together to raise their family. Vanessa shared that Bryant was a romantic, who planned elaborate outings for Valentine’s Day and their anniversary. She remembered Bryant as an invested and active father who found ways to connect with each of his four daughters. The couple, who wed in 2001, celebrated their 18th anniversary in April 2019. Their youngest child, Capri, was born in June 2019, according to People.

What caused Bryant’s helicopter crash?

Bryant boarded a helicopter on Jan. 26 at John Wayne Airport. Along for the ride was his daughter, Gianna, and two of her basketball teammates, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli. John and Keri Altobelli, the parents of Alyssa, and Sarah Chester, the mother of Payton, were also on board. The girls’ coach, Christina Mauser, was on the doomed flight, too. Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter, also perished.

While no official cause for the crash has been announced, experts have surmised that the copter, which was owned by Island Express may have encountered adverse weather conditions. On the morning of Jan. 26, Los Angeles and the surrounding area was blanketed in a thick fog. The LAPD had grounded their own flight support crew, but Zobayan flew onward. Throughout the 45-minute flight, Zobayan was in touch with several air traffic controllers on the ground and was even given special clearance to fly by instrument. It is unknown why Zobayan was given permission to fly in heavy fog. It could take months for an official determination to be made.

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, has filed a lawsuit against Island Express in the days since the crash, according to Fox News. The lawsuit alleges that Zobayan flew unsafely in eight separate ways. Island Express has not commented on the suit but has suspended service since the crash. It is unclear if the company will ever fly again.