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'Renegade' Star Lorenzo Lamas Interviewed By NTSB In Kobe Bryant Crash Investigation

By Mike Walters

Actor Lorenzo Lamas was interviewed as a part of the ongoing investigation into Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash, and not only did he vouch for the pilot, he recounted a mind-blowing story told to him about flying the NBA star on Thanksgiving.

According to documents released by the NTSB, and obtained by The Blast, Lamas was interviewed because he now works as a pilot for the company, Island Express, which owned the helicopter Kobe was traveling in when it crashed in January.

The 'Renegade' star was also close friends with the pilot, Ara Zobayan, who was flying the aircraft that fateful morning and was grilled by the NTSB about his experiences and thoughts about him as a pilot.

During the interview, Lamas vouched for Zobayan on several occasions, including calling him an 'exceptional pilot.'

Related to what you're reading:

Lorenzo Lamas: Kobe Bryant's Pilot Was 'Exceptional'


"I felt very comfortable talking to him about anything, you know, aircraft related," Lamas recalled.

He continued, "Ara did the schedule for all of us pilots. So, you know, he was always very helpful in making time available for us if we needed it for whatever reason, for family or medical, you know, whatever the case may be."

When asked if he was "close friends" with Ara, he replied, "We were."

"We'd run into each other and so we kind of stayed -- you know, we stayed in touch. So I could say that we really had a -- we've had a friendship for at least 15 years," he added.

Lorenzo also described the late pilot as 'patient' and raved about him as a flying teacher, and a boss.

'Renegade' Star Says Kobe's Pilot Was 'Patient, Encouraging'


"So I think the best thing I could say about Ara in terms of that would be that he was patient, encouraging," Lamas said.

He continued, "He just was a guy that really encouraged the pilot, you know? He really gave you -- he made you feel really happy that you were flying an aircraft."

The NTSB released a transcript of the interview as a part of a large release of information and documents from their investigation into the deadly crash which claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi.

As we reported, one of the operating theories is that the pilot ignored warnings about bad weather and attempted to fly Kobe and his passengers anyways. Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant is now suing the pilot's estate claiming the aircraft should have never left the ground.

Lamas Says Pilot Would Never Take Risks With Passengers


But, In the February 3, 2020 interview, when asked if Lamas believed Zobayan 'ever took risks' while flying, he responded clearly "I would never say that."

He added, "I felt very, very -- how can I say it? Yeah, he was an exceptional pilot. In all the times that I flew with Ara, I've never felt like he didn't know what he was talking about or -- I always felt like he was in command of the helicopter."

During the interview, Lamas also said the 'saftey culture' within Island Express was outstanding. And when asked to rate it on a scale of 1-10...he replied, "I'd rate it a 10."

Also, during the extensive interview, Lamas was asked if Ara Zoboyan ever discussed his VIP passengers with the actor -- and he told investigators an unbelievable story about Kobe Bryant.

Read The Unbelievable Kobe Bryant Thanksgiving Story!

"Well, there's one story that stands out about one year where Kobe asked him to fly him to San Bernardino of Thanksgiving. And so he tells me that he loads -- and it's just Kobe," he begins.

He continues, "So he tells me he loads Kobe up and they're flying out there to San Bernardino because I guess Kobe's wife has family who lives out there somewhere in Riverside. And, you know, he lands at San Bernardino and Kobe gets out of the helicopter -- Ara shuts down, Kobe gets out of the helicopter, and Ara thinks he's going to be staying there for an indeterminate amount of time. You know, it's Thanksgiving night, this could be hours."

That's when the story gets unbelievable...

"So he sees Kobe get into the limo and then starts to go out towards the gate and it turns around. And Kobe gets out of the car and comes up to Ara and goes, we got to go back. And Ara goes, what's wrong?" Lamas recalls.

Kobe Bryant responds, "I forgot the stuffing."

This Is How Much Kobe Wanted To Make His Family Happy...

Lorenzo continued, "So he puts Kobe in the aircraft and they fly him back to John Wayne. Kobe gets in his car there, goes and gets the stuffing that he forgot, and gets back in the helicopter at John Wayne and flies back to San Bernardino with a tin of stuffing. That's probably the most expensive -- serving of stuffing that anybody's ever heard about."

The 'Renegade' actor ends the story by saying, "Oh, man. To be Kobe Bryant, right? We're going back to get some stuffing because he doesn't want to probably -- he fears the wrath of Vanessa if he shows up -- without the stuffing."

But, it appears to reiterate how much Kobe loved his family, and would do anything to make them happy.

The NTSB continues to investigate Kobe Bryant's deadly helicopter crash, and at this point have not issued a final ruling on the cause of the accident.

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