he Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) shared a message on Twitter, honoring Kobe Bryant and offering condolences to those who survived him. The Lakers legend had donated $1 million to the museum.
The sudden and tragic death of Bryant has sent shock waves through the U.S., and the world, as multiple news outlets reported on Sunday that he was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in Calabasas, California.
A prayer vigil to celebrate the life and career of the late NBA giant Kobe Bryant is scheduled to take place near the African American Civil War Memorial on Friday, January 31 from 5:00 p.m. through 6:30 p.m.
“Join us for a special prayer vigil of remembrance for the life and legend of Kobe Bryant,” the National Black United Front, who are behind the event titled “More than an athlete,” said in a press release.
“Kobe Bryant has touched so many people in so many ways and it is only right that we take a moment to honor him and his family. We ask that you join the DMV Community in honoring our fallen brother and his family.”
Taking part in the event is free of charge. However, potential attendees are asked to RSVP ahead of the vigil and bring a white candle.
The 41-year-old was killed on January 26 in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others aboard. He was on his way to a youth basketball tournament, where he coached his daughter.
The tragic news shocked the entire nation, as well as many basketball fans around the world.
“We at the National Museum of African American History Culture mourn the sudden and tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and the seven other victims of Sunday’s helicopter accident. Along with basketball fans, sports enthusiasts, and people the world over who loved Kobe Bryant and admired his passion for basketball and his family, we extend our most heartfelt condolences. We also extend our deepest sympathies and love to Vanessa Bryant and their surviving children Natalia Bryant, Bianca Bryant, and Capri Kobe Bryant,” Spencer Crew, interim director of the NMAAHC
The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation is listed on the museum's website as one of the founding donors to the museum.
Founding donors are "donors who make a commitment of $1 million or more to the National Museum of African American History and Culture prior to its opening in 2016."
“I will tell you what moved me more than anything else is my memory of Kobe coming to all the opening events around the museum and the fact that he was so generous with his time," said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Instutition. "He would stop and talk to people, he would let everybody take pictures with him. He never let them forget they were there to celebrate the museum.”
After the museum opened in 2016, Bryant said, “Go see this museum. There is no greater testament to this country than the stories in this building. Honored to be part of it.”
Some Bryant memorabilia is on display at the museum, including a uniform and a 2002 photo of him. The uniform was donated by Bryant himself.
“I was right near the sports area in the museum [when I found out], and we had just watched a clip of President Obama saying, ‘Obama out,’ which was him imitating Kobe Bryant, so it was sad and poignant," said Jackie Laughlin, another visitor to the museum.
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Kobe Bryant
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Walter Iooss
On Sunday morning (Jan. 26), US basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash about 30 minutes outside Los Angeles. Fatal helicopter accidents of this sort are, happily, quite rare—over the same approximate distance, you’re much more likely to be involved in a fatal accident driving in a car or SUV.
But over the past few years, even as the fatal accident rate for commercial flights fell dramatically, fatal chopper crashes have actually become more common. The rate of fatal helicopter accidents per 100,000 flight hours jumped from 2016 to 2018, according to data released by the US Helicopter Safety Team (USHST), a volunteer team of government and industry leaders, in March 2019. The number of fatalities per 100,000 hours also rose.
Total accident rate per 100,000 flight hours
Fatal accident rate per 100,000 flight hours
This was especially true of private flights—a category that doesn’t include air taxi services or helicopter charters—with the percentage of fatal private accidents increasing from 22% to 29%. Over the same period, the percentage of fatal helicopter accidents involving air ambulances, commercial flights, and crop dusting fell dramatically—all industries where operators have targeted safety training and increasingly use flight simulators.
Fatal accident helicopter flight type
Aerial application (crop spraying)
According to USHST, the rise in fatal accidents over the past three years is due to more “non-essential low-altitude operations”—low-flying helicopters encountering obstacles such as buildings, power lines, or hills that suddenly appear in the fog. In 2018, these made up 33% of all accidents, up from 15% between 2009 and 2013.