The longtime lovers had an agreement that only one of them could get on a helicopter at a time.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” a source told PEOPLE.
Another precaution taken by the baller, the source revealed, was that he “only” flew helicopters with pilot Ara Zobayan, who had 20 years of experience. As RadarOnline.com readers know, the pilot died at the scene along with the eight passengers.
As readers know, foggy weather conditions caused the helicopter to crash into the Calabasas hills on Sunday, January 26, killing Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The father-daughter duo were headed to Thousand Oaks, where the teen was scheduled to attend a practice game at Kobe’s Mamba Academy.
The other victims who lost their lives in the collision were Ara, college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, Sarah and Payton Chester (a mother and daughter who lived in Orange County), and Christina Mauser, who worked as a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar.
Kobe started using helicopters so he better balance his role as a father and his job as a Los Angeles Laker. “I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play,” he told Alex Rodriguez in 2018. “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, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started,” he added.
After 20 years in the NBA, Kobe retired in 2016. He will now be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
According to a PEOPLE insider, however, the basketball star was very eager to spend his retirement with his loved ones.
“One of the biggest things he was looking forward to after retiring from the NBA was getting to spend more time with his family,” the insider told the outlet . “He was a very hands-on dad and, like any other father, saw such bright futures for all of his daughters.”
“He was so proud to see them take after not only him and Vanessa, but also grow into their own,” the insider continued. He had a special bond with each of his daughters.”