“That loss is something that I know many are still grappling with,” Obama told attendees Saturday, adding, “particularly Kobe because he was with his daughter and those families, and those children.”
In a video posted on social media by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Obama noted that as a father he found the deaths of the children on the helicopter particularly “heartbreaking.”
“Those of us who have had the joy and privilege of being parents and taking kids to ballgames, and then rooting for our children, and seeing our dreams and hopes passed on to them. Nothing is more heartbreaking,” he said.
The former president, who is father to daughters Malia and Sasha, went on to offer his condolences to the “NBA family,” the Bryants and relatives of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who died on New Year’s Day.
Obama spent time with Bryant on multiple occasions. At one event, the two filled care packages for families at an NBA Cares event at a Boys and Girls Club in Washington, D.C. in 2010 [pictured above].
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed when the helicopter they were riding in crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California on the morning on Jan. 26. The crash also claimed the lives of pilot Ara Zobayan; Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife Keri Altobelli; their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach; 13-year-old Payton Chester, a basketball teammate of Gianna’s; and her mother, Sarah Chester.
A public memorial for the victims is scheduled to take place at the Staples Center on Feb. 24.
Fans can register to purchase tickets through Monday, February 17 at 10 p.m. PT on a Ticketmaster verified fan site. Organizers say proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which aims to further Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s legacy in youth sports.
View this post on Instagram
Nine people died in the helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday. The group was flying to a basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California, where Bryant’s daughter Gianna was expected to play and he was expected to coach. While police have not released the names of the people on board, family members and associates of some victims have confirmed the deaths. The victims include: – Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. – Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa. Gianna and Alyssa were teammates, an OCC assistant coach told CNN. – Christina Mauser, an assistant girls basketball coach at a private school in Orange County. – Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton. – Ara Zobayan, the helicopter’s pilot. (📸: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images, Altobelli Family, Matt Mauser, Family Photo and Facebook)
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.