Reflections on covering the devastating news of helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant

USA TODAY Sports is marking the first anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others with a six-day series of stories, photos and videos looking back at the Lakers legend and the aftermath of his death.

LOS ANGELES – As I stood in line at the cash register of a clothing store, I received a text message that would mark the beginning of a tumultuous year in 2020. It would also mark the beginning of a day that pains me just as much nearly a year later.

On Jan. 26, 2020 at 11:29 a.m. PT, a friend sent a TMZ story that reported former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash followed with three crying emojis.

I stared at my phone screen in shock. I refused to click on the link because I feared it might be a virus. I also feared the news might be true. So, I just stood there staring at my phone.  The cashier could have charged me thousands of dollars for a handful of clothes. I would have neither noticed nor cared.

Instead, I reflected immediately on a sit-down interview I had with Bryant in his office in Costa Mesa, California, nine days earlier. Bryant spoke extensively on how he pivoted almost seamlessly from a storied 20-year…

Read Story