Late night talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel shared their tributes to Kobe Bryant on Monday night. On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert joined them by opening his show with a heartbreaking connection he has to the tragedy.
Colbert’s father and his two brothers were killed in a plane crash in 1974 when he was 10 years old. The circumstances of that accident also involved heavy fog.
“I feel a strange connection to his family and his friends and those who loved him and those who’ve gone through this particular tragedy,” Colbert said during the show. “Because I lost my father and two of my brothers when I was a boy to a plane crash that was also in heavy fog.
“One of the terrible things about that shock and the heartbreaking unreality, nightmare quality of some huge in your life who just disappears, the center of your love disappearing in that moment, is not knowing what happened,” he continued.
Colbert went on to talk about a helicopter pilot he flew with in New Zealand who told him about the lack of safety regulations helicopters have compared to commercial airplanes. Specially, they are not required to have black boxes, so when an accident does happen there’s no way to determine exactly what went wrong.
He argued that knowing that information could potential help avoid similar helicopter accidents in the future.
Colbert also took time to mention every victim by name: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement on behalf of the league on Sunday:
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.”
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. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”