Kobe Bryant will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the wake of the tragic helicopter crash that took his life, RadarOnline.com can report.
“Expected to be arguably the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett,” Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo told The Athletic. “Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”
As part of the legendary former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player’s induction, the Hall of Fame is waiving the required vote for new members, breaking a longstanding requirement.
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Bryant, who retired from the NBA in 2016, was killed at age 41 in a helicopter accident on January 26.
The NBA star and his daughter were traveling to Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park, California, for a practice game around 9:40 a.m. Sunday when the flying conditions turned dangerous due to the weather. During the flight, the pilot crashed into a mountain in Calabasas.
Besides the father and daughter, the accident claimed the lives of John Altobelli, a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and their teen daughter Alyssa.
Payton Chester — who played with 13-year-old Gianna in their basketball team, the Mamba Lady Mavericks — Chester’s mother, Sarah, and coach Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan, the helicopter pilot, were also among the victims.
Friends and loved ones showered Zobayan with praise on social media after the accident, with one fellow pilot calling him calling him an incredible, experienced pilot, who “was very much loved in the aviation community.”
Bryant and Gianna — nicknamed “GiGi” — are survived by Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, 37, and Gianna’s three sisters: Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Scroll through Radar's gallery to find out more about Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction to honor his contribution to basketball.
Decades of Determination
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
“He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary ... but he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability,” Silver noted.
Bryant’s entire 20-year NBA career was with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The basketball superstar also earned two Olympic Gold medals during his illustrious career.
Celebrities took to social media to pay tribute to Bryant after his death.
“As I scrolled through Kobe’s feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him … this is the truth that rings out the loudest … family is what matters most,” Jennifer Lopez posted. “We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now.”
Hall of Fame
Lakers fan Vanessa Hudgeons wrote on an Instagram photo: “Fu********. I’m. So. Sad. I’m devastated. Cryyyying. Too soon to loose sic such a legend. Sending so much love to vanessa and the kids.”
As Radar reported, Bryant’s helicopter was reportedly traveling north along the 118 freeway, turned west and followed the 101 freeway. After hitting heavy fog around 9:40 a.m., the helicopter turned south and made a steep climb from 1200 feet to 2000 feet. Moments later they reportedly flew into the mountain at 1700 feet and the vehicle was traveling at 161 knots.
The morning crash claimed the lives of the nine souls aboard the aircraft.
Hall of Fame
Bryant will officially take his place in the Hall of Fame in April. Officials will announce the entire list of 2020 Hall of Fame inductees at the same time.