"Before Gigi got into basketball, I hardly watched it, but now that she's into basketball, we watch every night," Kobe told former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson during a recent podcast.
There was talk about Gigi heading to the WNBA, and she certainly had the skills — even a fade shot that mimicked her dad's. Although she was only 13, she took the game seriously and was dedicated to honing her skills.
The pilot of the helicopter has been identified as 50-year-old Ara Zobayan. The 50-year-old of Armenian descent was a respected pilot who was said to be "instrument rated." This means that Zobayan was rated to fly in fog and clouds. This is important because the area in which the helicopter went down was said to be experiencing some visibility issues due to fog in the area. It has been reported that Zobayan was dedicated to the Bryant family, suggesting that he worked exclusively for them, piloting various flights throughout the year.
"He was not your typical egotistical helicopter pilot like most of us honestly are. Ara was a man that always remained cool, calm and collected. As more people that knew Ara open up about him, you'll only hear words like professional, calculated and loving," a friend of Zobayan posted on Facebook after learning of the crash.
John Altobelli was the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College (OCC). He was aboard the helicopter with his wife, Keri, and their daughter, Alyssa, who played basketball with Gianna.
"We have lost a member of our OCC family, and our hearts are broken. Coach Altobelli was a giant on our campus — a beloved teacher, coach, colleague, and friend. This is a tremendous loss for our campus community," OCC President Angelica Suarez said in a statement.
John and Keri Altobelli are survived by their son, J.J., and daughter, Alexis.
Christina Mauser was also killed in Sunday's helicopter crash. The 38-year-old was a wife and a mother foremost. She was also a girls' basketball coach, working at Harbor Day School, a private school in Corona del Mar, according to CNN.
Mauser often teamed up with Bryant for events at Mamba Academy, including a recent clinic for the WNBA.
"My kids and I are devastated. We lost our beautiful wife and mom today in a helicopter crash. Please respect our privacy. Thank you for all the well wishes they mean so much," her husband Matt wrote in an emotional Facebook post.