Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant is reportedly "devastated" that LA County deputies shared photos of her family members' mangled bodies on their cell phones.

Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, were killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas in January.

Photo by Best Image/BACKGRID

The helicopter erupted into flames immediately upon impact with the hillside. The nine bodies were crushed and burned beyond recognition.

The Los Angeles Times reported that deputies shared graphic images of the remains at the crash site.

At least nine emergency responders took pictures of the remains on their cell phones. One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he saw photos on the phone of an LA County official who was not at the crash site on Jan. 26.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Vanessa's attorney, Gray Robb, released a statement early Sunday morning that said Vanessa was "absolutely devastated" by the allegations.

On the day of the crash, Vanessa went to the sheriff's office to personally request that the area be designated a no-fly zone to protect the scene from airborne paparazzi, according to Robb's statement.

Robb added that Vanessa made the request to protect the dignity of all the victims and their families.

Photo by Cobra Team / BACKGRID

On Monday, the LA County Sheriff released a statement saying the graphic photos were "deleted" from all cell phones on the sheriff's orders.

An insider source said deputies were told if they come clean and delete the photos from their phones, they would not face discipline.

But other sources within the sheriff's office said the sheriff's decision to destroy all of the photos could amount to the destruction of evidence.

Vanessa will need the photos in case she decides to file a lawsuit against the county and the sheriff's office.

Photo by AFP via Getty Images

An L.A County Sheriff's trainee is in hot water for trying to impress a woman with gruesome death scene photos from the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site.

The trainee reportedly met the woman at a bar and tried to impress her by pulling out his cell phone and showing her gruesome pictures of the mangled bodies at the crash site.

Photo by EVGA / BACKGRID

Kobe, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died along with seven others in a helicopter crash in January.

The trainee was busted when a bartender overheard the conversation and called the cops.

The horrific photos were passed around by members of the L.A. County Fire Dept. and, according to TMZ, the department is now investigating.

The Sheriff's Dept. contacted family members of all the victims on Wednesday, after TMZ called them and inquired about the crime scene photos.

The Sheriff's Department would only tell TMZ "The matter is being looked into."

Photo by BACKGRID USA

Jada Pinkett Smith, Olivia Culpo and Philipp Plein paid tribute to legendary NBA star Kobe Bryant during Milan Fashion Week in Italy.

The 42-year-old designer and Jada, 48, wore matching bedazzled Kobe-inspired purple hooded jerseys with his number 24 on the front.

Photo by BACKGRID USA

Jada walked the runway wearing sequined pants, a black lace top and black leather cropped motorcycle jacket, all from Philipp Plein's Fall/Winter 2020-21 Collection.

Photo by BACKGRID USA

Olivia, 27, wore a purple throwback jersey with the number 24 to honor the Lakers legend. Like Olivia, the other models wore throwback jerseys, which featured Kobe's number 24 and the Lakers' team colors.

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Instagram.com/@jadapinkettsmith

Jada teased the look in a post on her Instagram stories.

"I got to honor an icon tonight with @philipppleinofficial," she wrote over a video of herself wearing the sequined purple hoodie.

She added: "Thinking of @vanessabryant and the girls. All proceeds go to Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation."

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Image

Thousands attended the star-studded memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant, at the Staples Center on Monday, Feb. 24.

Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others last month.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

The memorial service, which started at 10 a.m. local time, drew fans from around the country, some of whom paid up to $250 for a ticket.

Organizers urged people without tickets to stay away from the arena. LAPD reported no disturbances, according to NBC New York.

Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant gave a tearful speech after an introduction by Jimmy Kimmel.

"I'd like to thank everyone for coming today," she said. "The outpouring of love and support that my family has felt from around the world has been so uplifting."

She was joined by her daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri They were surrounded by family and friends on stage.

Photo by WENN.com

"She was daddy's girl but I know she loved her mama," Vanessa said of Gianna. "She was one of my very best friends."

Semi-retired singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter, 39, performed one of Kobe's favorite songs at the service.

"I'm here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs," said Beyonce before performing her hit single "Halo" along with a live orchestra.

Alicia Keys also performed one of Kobe and Vanessa's favorite musical sonatas by Beethoven on a purple piano. Kobe learned how to play the piece by ear.

NBA legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal made stirring speeches.
 


 


 


 

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Singers Jennifer Hudson (left) and Queen Latifah honored the late NBA star Kobe Bryant before the 2020 All-Star game in Chicago over the weekend.

Latifah, 49, performed Stevie Wonder's hit song "Love's in Need of Love Today" at the NBA's Saturday Night Skills competitions. She added a rap verse in honor of Kobe, who died along with his daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.

Latifah added the verse "Give love a shot / When you do, say 'Kobe' / 24 hours, eight days a week, trophies."

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Latifah attended the 2020 All-Star game on Sunday with her life partner Eboni Nichols.

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Jennifer Hudson performed a stirring tribute to Kobe during the NBA All-Star pre-game at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday.

Hudson, 38, was introduced by an emotional Magic Johnson, 60, who led the audience in 8 seconds of silence for Kobe and late NBA Commissioner David Stern, who died in January from complications of a stroke.

The Grammy and Oscar winner performed in front of a giant screen that flashed photos from Kobe's stellar career with the Los Angeles Lakers and touching images of the NBA legend with his daughter.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Hudson wore a floor length crushed velvet gown as she performed "For All We Know." Afterwards, she posed with celebrities such as rapper Ludacris, center, and actor Chadwick Boseman, right.

Rap producer Dr. Dre also performed a tribute to Kobe's greatest moments in sports. The Staples Center was temporarily renamed KOBE Center in his video.

Rapper Common performed a song before introducing the All-Stars for Team LeBron James and Team Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team members wore the numbers 2 and 24 for Gianna and Kobe respectively.

A public memorial service will be held for Kobe and Gianna at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 24. But the service is marred with controversy because tickets are being sold for as much as $250 with the proceeds going to Kobe's charity.

Watch Hudson's and Latifah's tributes below.
 

Jennifer Hudson - For All We Know

 

Queen Latifah - Love's in Need of Love Today"

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Photos: NBC.com, Getty Images

Charles Barkley said fellow NBA legend Kobe Bryant should be remembered for both his NBA legacy and that 2003 rape case.

Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in Calabasas, California last month.

Barkley told NBC's Today Show that the Los Angeles Lakers great can be remembered for both his NBA achievements and his rape case.

"You have to tell the picture in totality," Barkley said. "We're not making Kobe out to be no hero. We're celebrating his basketball excellence. We understand what happened in Colorado. That's fair, but two things can be true."

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Barkley, who is pictured with Bryant and his wife Vanessa at the 2016 ESPYs, argued that the rape allegations against Bryant should not be ignored just because they make people uncomfortable.

Television journalist Gayle King was dragged on social media after she asked former WNBA star Lisa Leslie about the rape case affecting Bryant's legacy.

Bryant's angry fans included rapper Snoop Dogg, who threatened King and called her a "dog faced b*tch".

Snoop Dogg, 48, has since apologized twice for disrespecting King, 65.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old desk clerk at a Colorado resort in 2003. The charges were dropped after the woman accepted an out-of-court settlement and refused to testify.

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Photos: Instagram, WENN.com

Gayle King has graciously accepted rapper Snoop Dogg's apology, 2 weeks after he called her a "dog face b*tch" over her remarks about Kobe Bryant's 2003 sex case.

Snoop was forced to publicly apologize twice after he was threatened by no less than Barack Obama's former national security advisor, Susan Rice.

King, 65, came under fire when she interviewed former WNBA star Lisa Leslie and asked her if Bryant's alleged rape case affected his NBA legacy.

Bryant, 41, died tragically with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old desk clerk at a Colorado resort in 2003. The charges were dropped after the woman accepted an out-of-court settlement and refused to testify.

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Photos: YouTube, Getty Images

By asking Leslie those probing questions, King was simply doing her job as a well-respected journalist.

Snoop, 48, released a video, dragging King and threatening to "come get" her.

The rapper, real name Calvin Broadus, Jr., later backtracked in a half-hearted apology video, saying he meant no harm to King.

But that wasn't enough for King's influential and powerful friends. They reminded the aging rapper that, with one phone call, they could end his career and send him into early retirement.

Snoop Dogg issued another video statement on Wednesday, this time he apologized profusely to King. He claimed his elderly mother made him see the error of his ways.

"Had a talk with my momma thank u mamma," he captioned the video. "2 wrongs don't make it right time to heal... @gayleking Peace... n love Praying for u and your family as well as Vanessa and the kids."

In the video, Snoop Dogg said he "overreacted". "I publicly tore you down by coming at you in a derogatory manner based off of emotions... Me being angry at questions that you asked.... I should have handled it way different than that, I was raised way better than that, so I would like to apologize publicly for the language that I used and calling you out your name and just being disrespectful."

After enduring death threats and heavy public criticism for 2 weeks, King issued a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday, saying she accepted Snoop Dogg's apology.

"I accept the apology and understand the raw emotions caused by this tragic loss," she said.

"As a journalist, it is sometimes challenging to balance doing my job with the emotions and feelings during difficult times. I don't always get it perfect but I'm constantly striving to do it with compassion and integrity."
 

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Rapper Snoop Dogg apologized again a week after his half-hearted apology to journalist Gayle King did not go over well.

The rapper called King a "b*tch" and encouraged his followers to send death threats to King, 65, after she asked former WNBA player Lisa Leslie to comment on Kobe Bryant's 2003 rape allegations.

Snoop Dogg's comments sparked a firestorm of controversy that ended with former President Barack Obama's White House advisor Susan Rice telling the rapper to "back the **** off" and threatening to send an army to gather him.

Snoop, real name Calvin Broadus, Jr., apologized in an Instagram video on Wednesday, claiming his mother made him see the error of his ways.

"Had a talk with my momma thank u mamma," he captioned the video. "2 wrongs don't make it right time to heal... @gayleking Peace... n love Praying for u and your family as well as Vanessa and the kids."

In the video, Snoop Dogg said, "I should have handled it way different than that, I was raised way better than that, so I would like to apologize publicly for the language that I used and calling you out your name and just being disrespectful," he said.

Snoop apologized again after his reality show co-host Martha Stewart commented on his disrespectful behavior this week.
 

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Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant were laid to rest two weeks after the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of the NBA legend, his daughter and seven others.

A private funeral for Kobe, 41, and Gianna was held in Corona Del Mar, California on Friday, Friday 7, according to multiple reports.

Kobe and his daughter were laid to rest near each other at Pacific View Memorial Park, according to published reports.

The Los Angeles Times cited death certificates released by the county which gives the date of internment as Feb. 7.

Sources tell Entertainment Tonight Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant, 37, and the family "wanted a private service to mourn their loss".

A planned memorial will be held for the public at Los Angeles' Staples Center on Feb. 24. It is not clear if Kobe's family will attend the public memorial.

Photo by David Livingston / WENN

Vanessa and Kobe are pictured in 2005, a year before daughter Gigi was born. They are pictured below in 2007 with daughters Gigi and Natalia Bryant at Disneyland.

Photo by Adriana M. Barraza / WENN

On Monday, over 1,000 people attended a memorial service for three members of the Altobelli family, who also died in the crash. 4,000 people were expected to attend the service for John, Kelly and Alyssa Altobelli at Angel Stadium.

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Photos: Instagram.com, screen grab

Marc Lamont Hill weighed in on the controversy surrounded embattled TV journalist Gayle King.

The "CBS This Morning" host was dragged on social media after she questioned former WNBA star Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant's 2003 rape allegation.

Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash 2 weeks ago.

The backlash continued on Monday when King's supporters sent the hashtag #IStandWithGayle trending on Twitter.com.

King's bestie, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, broke down while explaining the stress King was under. "She's not doing well," Oprah said, while fighting back tears.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, 48, made the situation worse when he called her a "b*tch". His followers sent death threats to King on social media. King reportedly called out sick on Friday.

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In a special segment with theGrio, award-winning journalist, Marc Lamont Hill weighed in on the disrespect toward a 65-year-old, successful Black woman.

"[Snoop Dogg] talked about Black people doing the most harm to ourselves," said Hill. "He talked about what this might do to Kobe's family - all valid points. Even if you disagree with them, they're valid points. The issue for me comes in when Snoop also calls Gayle King a ‘funky, dog-face b*tch.' That crosses the line. That becomes misogyny; that becomes sexism."

Hill said King's question about the link between the rape allegation and Kobe's legacy was a fair one, but the timing of the question and the follow-up question went too far.

"You could see Leslie's face that she was uncomfortable," said Hill. "You could see that that follow up question [was] a little combative and I do think that it crossed the line."

He continued: "Remember, she's not interviewing a scholar, she's not interviewing an expert on sexual assault. She's interviewing a dear friend, days after a death, and to watch her have to even think about that question or to have to think on the spot about how to publicly reconcile how she thinks... or to make sense of that and articulate that at a moment's notice is not how you do journalism."

Hill said the level of disrespect for a Black woman also crossed the line.

"You can critique Snoop Dogg. You can critique Gayle King - we can have these conversations, but we have to do so in ways that humanize and not dehumanize," he said.

Photo by Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com

Vanessa Bryant opened up about her grieving process, saying her "brain refuses to accept" both her husband Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant are gone.

Kobe and Gianna, along with seven others, died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California 2 weeks ago.

Photo by Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com

In an emotional Instagram post alongside video of Gigi and her teammates Payton Chester, 13, and Allysa Altobelli, 14, who also died in the crash, Vanessa, 37, wrote the "nightmare" just feels "wrong."

"I've been reluctant to put my feelings into words," she said. "My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can't process both at the same time."

She continued: "It's like I'm trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong.

"Why should I be able to have that opportunity?! I'm so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I'm not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I'm here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri."

Photo by WENN.com

Vanessa said she is sharing her thought process with her followers "in case there's anyone out there that's experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all."

Vanessa shared the post hours before a stadium memorial for the three members of the Altobeli family who died in the crash. 4,000 mourners are expected to attend the memorial.

It is not clear if Vanessa will be in attendance.
 

View this post on Instagram

I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live. Then I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters. Mad I’m not with Kobe and Gigi but thankful I’m here with Natalia, Bianka and Capri. I know what I’m feeling is normal. It’s part of the grieving process. I just wanted to share in case there’s anyone out there that’s experienced a loss like this. God I wish they were here and this nightmare would be over. Praying for all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. Please continue to pray for all.

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant ? (@vanessabryant) on

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Photos by Getty Images, WENN.com

The ongoing attacks on television journalist Gayle King sparked the hashtag #IStandWithGayle on Twitter.com on Sunday.

The drama started when CBS released a promo clip for King's interview with former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, 47.

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Screenshots: CBS This Morning

King, 65, came under fire when she asked Leslie to comment on Kobe Bryant's 2003 rape allegation. Bryant, 41, died tragically with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old desk clerk at a Colorado resort. The charges were dropped after the woman accepted an out-of-court settlement and refused to testify.

Bryant released a statement acknowledging he may have submitted the teenager to sexual activity without her consent.

Rapper Snoop Dogg incurred the wrath of intellectuals and women's rights advocates when he threatened King, which encouraged his followers to make death threats against King.

Snoop later backtracked, saying he meant no harm to King. Snoop, who was acquitted of murder, added he is "non-violent".

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Oprah Winfrey broke down in tears while discussing her bestie Gayle King's troubles on Friday.

King, 65, was heavily criticized and "cancelled" on social media in response to a video clip of her interview with former WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

Winfrey, 66, choked up during an appearance on "Today" with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. She described the harsh backlash against King, who asked Leslie if Kobe Bryant's NBA legacy would be "complicated" by old rape allegations from 2003.

"She's not doing well," Winfrey said as she teared up. "She is not doing well because she now has death threats and has to travel with security. She is feeling very much attacked."

Winfrey was referring to the savage online bullying fueled by rude rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, and even NBA star LeBron James.

King said she planned to have intense discussions with CBS over their choice of promos clips.

"I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview - totally taken out of context - and when you see it that way, it's very jarring. It's jarring to me. I didn't even know anything about it."

CBS was quick to respond to King's allegations on Thursday.

"Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made."

 

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Photos: Instagram.com/Getty Images

Gayle King lashed out at CBS editors over a promo clip in which she asked the late Kobe Bryant's friend, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, to comment on his rape accusation.

"It's been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge that was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?" King asked.

Leslie said the allegations were a "non-issue" for her and that the Bryant she knew would never lust after other women in her presence.

"But Lisa, you wouldn't see it though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it," King persisted.

The 65-year-old co-host of CBS This Morning was shocked and saddened by the public's ferocious response to the clip, which she claimed was "totally taken out of context."

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Screenshots: CBS This Morning

In videos uploaded to her Instagram and Twitter accounts on Thursday, an exhausted King said:

"I've been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I'd be extremely angry with me too. I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way, it's very jarring."

King said she was persistent with the former WNBA star because she "wanted to make sure [Leslie's] position and perspective were very clear."

She was furious that CBS chose to post that clip without her knowledge.

"For the network to take the most salacious part, when taken out of context, and put it up online for people who didn't see the whole interview was very upsetting to me," she said. "That's something I am going to have to deal with with them."

King emphasized she didn't "intend" to offend the Bryant family, because she viewed Kobe as a friend.

"He was very kind and warm to me and I felt we had a friendly relationship. I too am mourning his loss like anybody else. I still am shocked by it. It's tragic and untimely and the last thing I would want to do is disparage him at this particular time."

CBS was quick to respond to King's allegations that they intentionally hung her out to dry to boost TV ratings.

In a statement to E! News, a CBS spokesperson seemed to confirm King's statement. The spokesperson said "changes have already been made".

"Gayle conducted a thoughtful, wide-ranging interview with Lisa Leslie about the legacy of Kobe Bryant. An excerpt was posted that did not reflect the nature and tone of the full interview. We are addressing the internal process that led to this and changes have already been made."

 

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Photos: Instagram.com/Getty Images

Gayle King lashed out at executives at CBS over a promo clip in which she asked the late Kobe Bryant's friend, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie, to comment on his rape accusation.

The NBA legend was killed in a helicopter crash at the age of 41 last month, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

King believes CBS set her up by releasing the promo clip over dozens of other clips they could have used.

In the clip, King asked Leslie if she thought the rape allegation "complicated" Bryant's legacy.

Bryant was charged with sexual assault after he had consensual sex with a promiscuous 19-year-old desk clerk at a Colorado resort in 2003.

The charge was later dismissed as a criminal complaint but settled as a civil case in 2005.

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Screenshots: CBS This Morning

"It's been said that his legacy is complicated, because of a sexual assault charge that was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you, as a woman, as a WNBA player?" King asked.

Leslie said the allegations were a "non-issue" for her and that the Bryant she knew would never lust after other women in her presence.

"It's not complicated to me at all, Leslie said. "Even if there's a few times that we've been at a club at the same time, Kobe's not the kind of guy, never been, like, 'Lis, go get that girl, or tell her, or send her this.'"

"But Lisa, you wouldn't see it though. As his friend, you wouldn't see it," King persisted.

The snippet was part of a wider interview with Leslie, but was the only clip CBS released online.

Predictably, Bryant's fans attacked King over the "disrespectful" line of questioning. The backlash was furious on social media. Many attacked King and her association with media mogul Oprah, who recently cancelled a planned documentary on sexual misconduct allegations against Russell Simmons.

Angry Bryant fans even went IN on King's wig.
 

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Taking to Instagram, a somber-looking King responded: "I've been up reading the comments about the interview I did with Lisa Leslie about Kobe Bryant, and I know that if I had only seen the clip that you saw, I'd be extremely angry with me too."

King continued: "I am mortified. I am embarrassed and I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview - totally taken out of context - and when you see it that way, it's very jarring. It's jarring to me. I didn't even know anything about it."

Honoring Bryant as "warm and friendly", King insisted there will be "a very intense discussion" between her and CBS about her future celebrity interviews going forward.
 

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant remembered her late daughter Gianna in a heartbreaking post on Instagram on Wednesday, as her high school held a ceremony to officially retire the 13-year-old's jersey.

Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash with her father, Kobe Bryant, and seven others last month, was remembered by her school friends and basketball teammates at Harbor Day middle school on Wednesday.

Gianna had worn the number 2 jersey as a starter on the Harbor Day girls basketball team and the Mamba Sports Academy girls basketball team.

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Photo by Instagram.com/@VanessaBryant

Gianna was the second daughter born to Vanessa and Kobe Bryant in 2006, after Vanessa suffered a miscarriage the year before. Gigi is seen here with her mom and older sister, Natalia.

Vanessa, 37, shared photos and videos from the ceremony on Instagram, writing: "My Gianna. God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1. #2 #Mambacita #GigiBryant."

She also later shared a snap of Gianna's framed jersey, writing: "My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita. #2."

According to WENN.com, a group of the school's 6th and 7th graders gathered together to sing Maroon 5's hit song "Memories" in tribute to Gianna.

The group's frontman Adam Levine shared a video of the emotional moment on Twitter.com.

"It's important to cry. It’s important to sing. It's important to love so hard and hold on so tightly for as long as we can. Now more than ever. #GIRLDAD," the dad of two daughters wrote, referencing Kobe's now famous quote that he was proud to be a "girl dad", as the father of four daughters with Vanessa.
 


 

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Screenshots: CBS This Morning

Oprah Winfrey's bestie Gayle King came under fire for comments she made about the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, who died tragically with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash last month.

King was heavily criticized for asking about Bryant's rape accusation during her CBS This Morning interview with former WNBA star Lisa Leslie.

Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old desk clerk at a Colorado resort in 2003. The charges were later dropped after the woman accepted an out-of-court settlement and declined to pursue charges against the Lakers star.

During the interview, King asked Leslie about the rape allegations against Bryant and whether or not they "complicate" his NBA legacy.

Leslie said the allegations were a "non-issue" for her and that the Bryant she knew would never lust after other women in her presence.

"It's not complicated to me at all, Leslie said. "Even if there's a few times that we've been at a club at the same time, Kobe's not the kind of guy, never been, like, 'Lis, go get that girl, or tell her, or send her this.'"

Leslie added that she knows other NBA stars who are dogs like that, but not Bryant.

After the interview aired, King received backlash from furious social media users who accused her of trying to smear Bryant's legacy.

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Celebrities never miss a chance to hop on the hashtag trend. So when the hashtag "#girldad" began trending in honor of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, every male celebrity posted social media images of their biological daughters and referred to themselves as "girl dads."

Photo by BACKGRID USA

Kobe referred to himself as a girl dad because he could only sire girls with his wife, Vanessa Bryant. As you know, since females lack a male Y chromosome, the father's chromosome always chooses the sex of the child.

As Instagram comedienne Jess Hilarious points out in an IG post, a "girl dad" is a father who has all girls. If a guy has one son, he is not a girl dad.

For instance, Barack Obama could only father girls with Michelle Obama. He is a girl dad.

It's sad that this has to be explained to some people on social media.
 

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Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The bodies of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were reportedly released to their family following their tragic deaths last month.

According to Us Weekly, the remains were released by the Los Angeles County coroner's office on Sunday, Feb. 2, in preparation for their funeral - expected to take place next week.

Photo by KIKA/WENN.com

Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were among nine people killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in dense fog on Jan. 26. They were remembered in various ways at Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Sunday, WENN.com reports.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Images of Kobe and Gianna, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, who died last week, were shown on big screens as the crowd fell silent.

Later, singers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira paid tribute to Kobe during their Halftime Show, when an overhead shot of the field during a performance of Jennifer's "Let's Get Loud" showed a huge cross lit up in purple and yellow - the colors of Kobe's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Island Express Helicopters, the charter service that employed Kobe's pilot, Ara Zobayan, are under investigation following reports that Zobayan, 50, was not as experienced flying under instrument rules only.

According to the FAA, Island Express's pilots were authorized to fly under visual flight rules only, meaning they had to be able to clearly see the ground and other aircraft while in the air.

Island Express has grounded their fleet of six Sikorsky S-76B choppers until the investigation is completed. The company was involved in four helicopter crashes previously.

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Photos: Getty Images, Facebook

Island Express Helicopters, the charter company that employed Kobe Bryant's pilot, has grounded its fleet of choppers as the FAA reports pilot Ara Zobayan was not cleared to fly in dense fog conditions.

Zobayan, 50, piloted the chopper that was chartered to carry Kobe, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and six other passengers from Newport Beach to Camarillo.

The tower lost contact with Zobayan about 2 minutes after warning him that he was too low to be tracked on radar.

The chopper descended rapidly and flew at top speed into a hillside near Calabasas. The crash left debris scattered over 500 feet.

The company which owns six Sikorsky S-76B choppers grounded its fleet as the investigation into Sunday's tragic crash continues.

Zobayan, who was licensed to fly under instrument rules, didn't have the legal authority to fly in fog because the company didn't have necessary certification.

Pilot Kurt Deetz, who previously ferried Kobe to destinations in the same helicopter, said Zobayan wasn't as experienced flying under instruments only.

Deetz said the pilot likely didn't have experience flying with instruments only because of the company's operating limitations.

"There is only one way you can be in the clouds, on an I.F.R. (instrument flight rules) flight plan or by accident," Deetz said.

Air traffic controllers at Burbank Airport had given Zobayan special visual flight rules clearance to fly with lower visibility due to the foggy conditions. The visibility that day was 3-5 miles - enough distance to see obstacles in front of his windscreen.

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Photo: State of Illinois

The Sikorsky S-76B is the largest and most luxurious helicopter. It is favored by celebrities and wealthy executive clients because of the roomy cabin. The same chopper with a different tail number was previously owned by the state of Illinois (pictured).

Island Express specialized in short hops from Long Beach, California to Catalina Island. A one-way ticket for a 15 minute trip to Catalina Island cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per passenger.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's cause of death was revealed by the Los Angeles coroner's office on Wednesday night.

Bryant, 41, his daughter, Gianna Bryant, 13, and seven others died in a suspicious helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26.

The coroner said all of the victims died from "blunt trauma" in a high impact crash. The manner of death was listed as an "accident."

All 9 bodies were identified through DNA and fingerprints, the coroner's office confirmed.

"Through the use of DNA and fingerprints, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner has identified all nine of the victims who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday," the statement said.

"On Tuesday body examinations were performed on all nine decedents. Their causes of death were certified as blunt trauma. The manner of death was certified as accident."

The other victims were identified as John Altobelli, 56, Alyssa Alobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, Sarah Chester, 45, Payton Chester, 13, Christina Mauser, 38, and the pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

The coroner's report was released hours after Kobe's widow, Vanessa Bryant, 37, posted an emotional statement on Instagram.com.

"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 then 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."

 

View this post on Instagram

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 ??

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant ? (@vanessabryant) on

Photo may have been deleted

Photos by Getty Images

Ari Shaffir's comedy career is circling the drain amid fierce public backlash to his comments about NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Shaffir's talent agent dropped him, and a NY comedy club cancelled an upcoming show after the comedian made light of Kobe's death.

When the news broke that the former Lakers star died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Shaffir joked that Kobe died "23 years too late."

Shaffir said Kobe should have died 23 years earlier, a crude reference to the NBA star's scandalous rape case in Colorado in 2003.

After the initial backlash, that included death threats, Shaffir claimed his Twitter account was hacked. When that excuse didn't work, he said he was only joking.

"Every time a beloved celerity dies I post some horrible shit about them. I've been doing it for years now,” he wrote. "I like destroying gods. And right when a famous person dies they're at their most worshipped. So as a response to all the outpouring of sympathy on social media, I post something vile. It's just a joke. I don't really hate any of the people."

He explained that he wasn't aware Kobe's daughter, Gianna, 13, was also on the helicopter when it crashed into a hillside in dense fog. Shaffir said he was just "looking to post some inappropriate jokes” to boost his follow count.

Explaining that he hated the Lakers because they would always "torch" his beloved Charlotte Hornets, Shaffir said he realized his post was inappropriate and he apologized.

"I'm not actually celebrating his death. I'm not actually celebrating any of their deaths. That's just an act."

 

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Screengrab: Instagram.com/@Vanessabryant

Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant shared her grief and heartache in an emotional statement published on Instagram.com.

The post accompanied a family portrait showing the 41-year-old Lakers legend smiling with Vanessa and their four daughters - 13-year-old Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, who died with her father in a helicopter crash on Sunday; 17-year-old Natalia, Bianka, 2, and infant Capri.

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who've shown support and love during this horrific time," the statement read.

"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.

"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 then 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."

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images

Vanessa's heartfelt message was posted Wednesday on Vanessa's Instagram account, which was recently made public for the first time since the crash.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The grieving widow changed her Instagram.com profile photo to this image of Kobe and his Gianna embracing during the 2016 NBA All-Star game in Toronto.

Vanessa shared a link to the foundation she set up, the Mamba Sports Foundation, for public donations "to help support the other families affected by this tragedy.

Also killed in the crash were college baseball coach John Altobelli, 56; his wife, Keri; and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, who played on the same basketball team with Gianna. Another young basketball player, Payton Chester, was also killed along with her mother, Sarah Chester; and Christina Maurer, a girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School, a private elementary school.

Photo by Chris Weeks/Liaison

Kobe and Vanessa, 37, met on the set of a music video when she was 16. He was already an NBA superstar when they met. He caused such a commotion when he picked her up from high school that the administration banned him from the school campus. They married when he was 22 and she was 18 in 2001.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Their eldest daughter Natalia, pictured left, was born 2 years later. Vanessa suffered a miscarriage in 2005, and Kobe blamed himself. Vanessa never got over the shame of his arrest for raping a Colorado woman in 2003.

The Bryants were overjoyed when Gianna (right) came along a year later. Kobe and Gigi became inseparable and she shared his passion for basketball.

The Lakers organization issued a statement on Twitter.com:

"We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers.

"Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever."

The Lakers organization also asked the public to donate to the foundation. Kobe fans criticized the organization for soliciting funds from grieving fans.

"Why is a billion dollar foundation asking the public for monies? Why not fund it yourself?" wrote one social media user. Others opined that Kobe was worth hundreds of millions of dollars when he died. His sponsor, Nike, and the Lakers are billion dollar corporations.

The request for public donations comes at a time when NBA fans - many of whom are not millionaires - are still reeling from the news of Kobe's death.
 

View this post on Instagram

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 ??

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant ? (@vanessabryant) on

Photo may have been deleted

Photos: Getty Images

Ellen Pompeo lashed out at editors of gossip website TMZ for their coverage of the helicopter crash that killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant.

Pompeo slammed the gossip blog for breaking the news of Bryant's death before it was officially confirmed and before his wife, Vanessa Lane Bryant, was informed.

Photo by NHLI via Getty Images

Pompeo took to Twitter on Tuesday to voice her concerns about the publication's approach to reporting.

The 50-year-old Grey's Anatomy star addressed TMZ and its founder, Harvey Levin, suggesting the police leaks information to TMZ.

"I wonder why police departments give @HarveyLevinTMZ all this sensitive info? I wonder why @HarveyLevinTMZ puts out photos of women who have been attacked or assaulted... Who were victims? Exploiting women who have been abused… why is this guy still in business at all?"

She continued: "So many questions I have ...if we are not tolerating abuse anymore, shouldn't we be calling this out? Exploiting women who have been abused, exploiting the brutal sudden death of peoples loved ones is certainly emotional abuse. I call times up on his behavior."

Pompeo urged fans to be "furious about the history of this media outlet regarding women", insisting: "It's not news it's exploitation."

Neither TMZ or Levin has yet to respond to the allegations, according to WENN.com.

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Photos: Getty Images, Facebook

An eyewitness says Kobe Bryant's pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50, was flying in a circle "aggressively," about 30 minutes before the helicopter crashed into a mountain above Calabasas, California.

The helicopter went down about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles at 9:47 a.m. Sunday, killing the 41-year-old NBA legend, his daughter Gianna, 13, and six other passengers.

An eyewitness captured the moment Bryant's helicopter was circling over Glendale, California for 15 minutes in foggy weather.

"I try and video/photograph all the weird stuff happening above my house in Glendale, CA," a Twitter user wrote under the handle @theironlydreams.

"Unfortunately this morning I didn't realize I was filming the helicopter Kobe Bryant, his daughter and others were in 31 minutes before they crashed."

According to a tweet from the same user, the pilot was performing a very aggressive circling maneuver, that's why I went outside to Film because it was so loud."

The user said the Sikorsky S-76B chopper was flying lower and lower over his house, "engine maxed."

Robert Ditchey, a veteran pilot, aeronautical engineer and former airline executive, told USA Today that the crash was "totally avoidable".

"And on the part of some people I can go as far as to say irresponsible," Ditchey said.

Aviation experts who studied the helicopter's bizarre flight path and weather maps observed that the pilot flew away from the airport and he had enough visibility to see the hills before he flew into them.

Aviation officials and law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating whether Zobayan was suicidal at the time of the crash.

Federal aviation officials are looking into Zobayan's background and interviewing his friends and family to determine whether he had financial or personal problems.

"All signs point to a CFIT [controlled flight into terrain]," an aviation source told The Washington Examiner.

A controlled flight into terrain is an accident in which a pilot intentionally or inadvertently flies an aircraft into the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle such as a building.

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan at least twice that he was flying too low to be tracked by radar.

Audio captured by LiveATC.net revealed that the pilot said he was climbing to avoid clouds when he suddenly veered off path above U.S. Route 101. Seconds later, he crashed into the hillside.

The transmissions between the pilot and the tower reveals the air traffic controllers didn't know what Zobayan was doing.

Minutes before the crash, a controller told Zobayan "you're still too low level" to be tracked by radar.

About four minutes later, "the pilot advised they were climbing to avoid a cloud layer," Jennifer Homendy of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Monday.

It was the pilot's last contact with the tower.

"When ATC asked what the pilot planned to do, there was no reply," Homendy said. Radar indicates the helicopter climbed to 2,300 feet and then began a left descending turn."

Two minutes later, someone called 911 to report the crash.

Zobayan was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning he was relying on his eyesight to see the ground below him rather than using the helicopter's more accurate instrument panel to determine his elevation.

Aviation experts say a pilot with Zobayan's experience should have avoided the hills in dense fog, not flown toward them.

Flight tracking data shows the pilot flying erratically up, down, sideways, up then rapidly descending 1,700 feet.

The helicopter was flying at 184mph and descending at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute when it struck the hillside, according to Flightradar24.

The rapid ascents and descents would have sparked terror among the passengers.

At the time of the crash, the fog ceiling was about 1,300 feet above ground with a visibility of 5 miles. The pilots believe Zobayan would have seen the mountain before he flew into it.

Photo by FayesVision/WENN.com

Usher Raymond, Justin Bieber and Snoop Dogg are among the stars calling for the NBA to change its logo in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend was just 41 when he was killed in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, their pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50, and six other passengers in California on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Following the heartbreaking news, tributes have poured in for Bryant, and fans are petitioning the NBA to change its logo to recognize the star.

Photo by BACKGRID

Naomi Campbell (pictured) and Vanessa Hudgens were also among the famous faces backing fan Nick M's campaign on website change.org, which features a logo mockup by graphic artist Tyson Beck.

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The petition aims to replace the current image, which features former basketball player and executive Jerry West in a silhouette (far right). The current NBA logo was designed by Alan Siegel in 1969.

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Lakers legends Jerry West (left) and Bryant posed together after the Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"Couldn't be a better time or all around athlete and person for it," Usher wrote on Instagram, adding, "#changethelogo."

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

But many NBA fans disagree. They want the NBA to leave the logo the way it is. Fans say social media has a tendency to make martyrs out of celebrities such as mixtape rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was gunned down in Los Angeles in March 2019.

When WENN.com went to press, the petition had amassed over 1.5 million signatures.

Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Aviation officials and law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating whether Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot was suicidal at the time of the crash that killed the NBA legend and 7 other passengers.

Aviation experts who studied the helicopter's bizarre flight path and weather maps observed that the pilot flew away from the airport and he had enough visibility to see the hills before he flew into them.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), alongside the FBI are investigating whether pilot Ara Zobayan flew a controlled flight into terrain or CFIT.

A controlled flight into terrain is an accident in which a pilot intentionally or inadvertently flies an aircraft into the ground, a mountain, a body of water, or an obstacle such as a building.

"All signs point to a [controlled flight into terrain]," an aviation source told The Washington Examiner.

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan at least twice that he was flying too low to be tracked by radar.

Federal aviation officials are looking into Zobayan's background and interviewing his friends and family to determine whether he had financial or personal problems.

Suicide by pilot is an event in which a pilot intentionally crashes an aircraft in an attempt to kill himself and sometimes passengers.

The suicide by pilot theory was considered after flight data shows Zobayan flew too low and turned away from the airport toward the hilly terrain in the final seconds before the crash that killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 6 other passengers.

The crash also killed college baseball coach John Altobelli, 56; his wife, Keri; and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, who played on the same basketball team with Gianna. Another young basketball player, Payton Chester, was also killed along with her mother, Sarah Chester; and Christina Maurer, a girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School, a private elementary school.

Zobayan, 50, was an experienced licensed commercial pilot of 12 years, a certified flight instructor of 2 years and a ground instructor of 11 years, according to federal aviation records.

Audio captured by LiveATC.net revealed that the pilot said he was climbing to avoid clouds when he suddenly veered off path above U.S. Route 101. Seconds later, he crashed into the hillside.

Zobayan was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), meaning he was relying on his eyesight to see the ground below him rather than using the helicopter's more accurate instrument panel to determine his elevation.

Disoriented pilots often follow Route 101 when flying by sight only.

Aviation expert Philip Greenspun told The Weather Channel: "You have to really follow [Route] 101 carefully if you want to avoid the hills. Once you mistakenly point the helicopter toward the hills due to, perhaps, being in a cloud or the visibility being really low, the only way to get away from the hills is by turning. Not by climbing into them."

Aviation experts say a pilot with Zobayan's experience should have flown away from the hills in dense fog, not toward them.

Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Bryant's former pilot, Kurt Deetz, has claimed that the Sikorski S-76B was "almost bulletproof" and would not have dropped out of the sky and crashed into a hillside.

Deetz said the helicopter was like a "limousine" that was in "fantastic" condition and it was "so reliable" that it wouldn't just "fall out of the sky."

"There aren't a lot of people readily qualified to fly it," Deetz told CNN on Monday. "They don't just fall out of the sky."

Deetz told the L.A. Times that the crash likely occurred due to dense fog rather than engine or mechanical problems. The weather was so bad that local police departments grounded their choppers.

"The likelihood of a twin engine failure on that aircraft - it just doesn't happen," he said.

The $13 million helicopter was 29 years old and logged "more than 7.4 million hours of safe flight.

In his final transmission to the tower Zobayan told an air traffic controller he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

Pilots who spoke with TMZ said they believe Zobayan panicked and ascended 2,000 feet in order to clear a mountain.

Flight tracking data shows he then rapidly descended 1,700 feet in what may have been an attempt to fly under the fog.

At the time of the crash, the fog ceiling was about 1,300 feet above ground with a visibility of 5 miles. The pilots believe Zobayan would have seen the mountain before he flew into it.

Several of the pilots agree that Zobayan should have switched to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and climbed above the fog rather than descend.

An air traffic controller warned Zobayan that he was flying too low to be seen on radar. "Two Echo X-ray, you are still too low for flight following at this time."

The tail number of Bryant's helicopter was N72EX.

Seconds later, the helicopter reportedly plunged nearly 500 feet in 15 seconds before it crashed into the hillside above Calabasas.

The crash site is only 17 miles from the Mamba Sports Academy, where the group was heading to attend a girls basketball tournament.

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

When it struck the hillside, the helicopter was flying at about 184mph and descending at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute, according to Flightradar24. The wreckage was scattered over the length of a football field.

The rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. Only three bodies were recovered by Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's Office.

Medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, estimated it would take a couple more days to recover the rest of the bodies.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The NBA postponed Tuesday night's game between the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers out of respect for the Lakers organization.

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others on Sunday.

Photo by BACKGRID USA

According to TMZ, the Lakers players and coaches are "simply inconsolable" to play on Tuesday.

"The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday," the league office said in a statement on Monday.

"The game will be rescheduled at a later date.”

A news crew captured footage of Lakers star LeBron James and other players sobbing on the tarmac after the team's plane arrived at LAX airport following Saturday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly.

Photo by Pasadena Star-News/SCNG

Bryant and LeBron James jockeyed for position during a game in this photo dated January 27, 2008.

16 teams played on Sunday following the news of Bryant's death. The Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs took intentional 24-second violations in honor of Bryant, who wore jersey No. 24.

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Photo by Instagram.com/@shaunieoneal5

Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife Shaunie O'Neal posted the last photo she took of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant watching O'Neal's daughter Mearah O'Neil (#17) playing in a basketball tournament on Saturday.

Gianna sat on a bench while her famous father stood nearby in a lounge area overlooking the basketball court.

The photo was taken at Bryant's Mamba Sports facility in Thousand Oaks, California on Saturday, Jan. 25.

Father and daughter were on a helicopter along with seven others when the chopper went down at 9:47 a.m. Sunday. They were heading to the sports facility when the helicopter crashed in the hills above nearby Calabasas.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bryant and Gianna shared a special bond. The two were inseparable. Friends say he was thrilled that "Gigi" shared his love for basketball.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A former coach and family friend said Bryant's family is "struggling" and they will miss him "more than you can begin to imagine."

The chopper went down in extremely foggy conditions minutes after an air traffic controller told the pilot he was flying too low to be tracked.

The pilot, Ara Zoboyan, was flying under special visual flight rules (SVFR), meaning he was given permission to fly in worse weather conditions than visual flight rules (VFR) allow.

SVFR is only issued when the visibility is 1,000 feet above ground level. Flying low to the ground is very risky even under normal conditions.

The helicopter circled over the Burbank airport for about 15 minutes while air traffic control cleared other flights to take off.

Zoboyan's friends say he was qualified to fly in heavy fog and was not one to make mistakes. The pilot had experience flying the military grade helicopter. The Sikorsky S-76B required two pilots, but only one pilot was flying that day.

The Sikorsky S-76B chopper was 29 years old and had twin engines. Another pilot who flew the same helicopter said the crash occurred due to weather conditions.

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Photos by BACKGRID

Kim Kardashian skipped the Grammy Awards to attend a midnight Sunday Service in honor of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others who perished in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Bryant, 41, Gianna and seven others were killed when a helicopter went down in the hills above Calabasas, California in extremely foggy conditions. The crash site is located behind Kourtney Kardashian's Calabasas home.

Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa and their daughters Natalia, Bianca and infant Capri, who was born last summer.

Photo by BACKGRID

Kardashian, 39, was seen leaving the memorial service which took place on Sunday night, hours after the NBA legend died.

The mother of four dressed conservatively in a grey satin wrap skirt and top for the service. She shared videos of the service on her Instagram page, with gospel singer Kirk Franklin telling the crowd: "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

She captioned the video: "I needed to hear this."

Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Kardashian and her husband Kanye West knew Bryant and his wife Vanessa Lane Bryant personally.

Photo by BACKGRID

Hours before the Sunday Service began, Kardashian posted a photo of Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Instagram along with the caption:

"My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience was Vanessa is going through. This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and baby girl."

Kardashian's younger sister Khloe Kardashian, 35, tweeted: "This can't be real, there's no way!!! My heart hurts." In another tweet, she wrote: "Please don't let this be True. I'm shaking."

Chance the Rapper performed alongside the Sunday Service Choir.