For the first time since his untimely and tragic passing in a helicopter crash in Calabassas, California, Kobe Bryant’s father Joe Bryant was seen outside of the Las Vegas home he shares with wife Pamela Bryant, receiving a bouquet of flowers.
The Daily Mail published the photos of Joe, 65, who is a retired NBA player himself and goes by the fond nickname “Jellybean.”
The flowers were brought to the house by a delivery person, and featured a tall grouping of yellow, purple, and white stems.
I’m rocked to my core… My phone has been ringing incessantly. I can't talk. Too many tears… too shook to drive. I sat in the parking lot of Costco for about an hour… weeping… I'm home now trying to get myself together. Take care of yourselves please. R.I.P., Kobe, R.I.P.
— Wayne Slappy (@WayneSlappy) January 27, 2020
Wayne Slappy, one of Kobe’s former coaches and still the best friend of Joe Bryant, told DailyMail.com that the family is grappling with the ‘black hole’ left behind by the death of beloved Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna, “Gigi,” Bryant. For the man who was affectionally referred to as “Black Mamba“—a venomous snake and reference to the deadly assassin in Quentin Tarrantino’s 2003 cult classic Kill Bill—the black hole metaphor is heartbreakingly fitting to describe the loss of someone so legendary and larger than life. “Can you imagine a black hole? It’s empty, how do you fill it?” Slappy said. “They’re a close-knit family. He was 41-years-old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him too.”
One of Joe and Pamela’s Las Vegas neighbors told The Daily Mail: “I talked to them twice yesterday and took over food and a card, and briefly today, they are just devastated, as you can imagine.” He added: “I was talking to Joe briefly the day before, we were out for a walk, it was all happy and good and talking about the gorgeous weather and then it switched in 24 hours where their lives were turned upside down.’
The neighbor also said that Kobe’s parents have a close relationship with their daughters Sharia and Shaya, who live in Las Vegas as well, and who have all banded together for support in this unimaginably difficult time.
For his own esteemed basketball career, Joe Bryant played in the NBA over an eight-year span from 1975 to 1983 on iconic teams like the 76ers, Clippers, and Rockets. He then took his talents overseas, playing in Europe until retiring in 1992 and beginning a second act as a coach for many years. Clearly, the basketball gene ran deep in the Bryant family, spanning generations as Kobe famously instilled a love of the sport in his daughter Gianna.
Since news of the devastating helicopter crash that killed all nine on board including Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven others who were on their way to a girl’s basketball game, the world has been reeling. Everyone from Presidents Trump, Obama, and Clinton to LeBron James, Rihanna, and Jimmy Fallon have expressed their sadness and sympathy for the Bryant family along with personal memories of times spent with Kobe over the years. Our thoughts go out to the whole Bryant family as they cope with this gut wrenching loss.