Kobe Bryant's Final Moment Is Hitting Moms Hard After 'He Lived Every Parent's Worst Nightmare'

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gigi
ESPN/YouTube

It's been more than 24 hours since news broke that Kobe Bryant had died at the age 41. And yet, the shock waves his death has caused don't seem to be wearing off. As more details continue to emerge about the fatal helicopter crash that took his life, as well as the lives of eight others, including his daughter, social media has been flooded with messages memorializing the basketball legend's greatest moments. Some are tweets that recall the first time they saw Kobe land a slam dunk at a Lakers game on TV; others canonize him as being the "hero" they always looked up to as a basketball-loving kid. But there has also been a chorus of other voices out there on the internet in the last day or so -- many of which come from parents, who simply cannot fathom what those final moments must have been like for a father and his beloved daughter.

  • Bryant was reportedly traveling from Calabasas, California, to Thousand Oaks, where he was expected at his daughter's travel basketball game.

    Thirteen-year-old Gianna Bryant was Kobe's second child, and as many have commented after her passing, she was "carrying on the torch" of her father's legacy. According to the Washington Post, Gianna (who was known as "Gigi") had big "hoop dreams," and hoped to one day play basketball for the University of Connecticut (UCONN).

    In many ways, it's been said that Gigi's budding basketball career was reigniting Kobe's love for the game that made him famous. But on Sunday morning, that was all tragically cut short when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed into the side of a mountain amid heavy fog.

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  • Many parents couldn't help but put themselves in Kobe's shoes -- a place which, quite frankly, seems unfathomable.

    "Can you even imagine how difficult it was for him in that moment?" a Facebook post by Inappropriately Appropriate asked. "The moment he knew that not only his own life was about to end, but that of his daughter ... a life he helped create."

    "Can you imagine how he felt as a father knowing he couldn't protect her?" the post continued. "Can you imagine him holding her, consoling her, telling her he loved her as that helicopter went down?"

  • The magnitude of what that really means -- if you stop and imagine it for even just a moment -- is truly heartbreaking.

    "As a parent, I can tell you, Kobe Bryant's greatest fear was realized today," the post continued. "And it wasn't the fear for his own life, but for that of his beautiful daughter. Because as a parent, your life means nothing in comparison to the lives of your children. We live for our children. We breathe for our children. They are our reason for being."

  • It's a sobering thought -- one that many people just can't seem to shake right now.

    Of course, this isn't the first time we've been here; the world has been united in grief far too many times, after an icon has died suddenly in their prime. (Paul Walker, Heath Ledger, and Carrie Fisher come to mind.) But the nature of Kobe's death is especially heartbreaking in that it's not just about the passing of a famous basketball star; it's about the passing of a father and daughter whose love for each other we've seen play out on television screens for years.

    "Just thinking of his internal struggle in those last moments tears my heart into pieces," the Facebook post continued. "He knew his daughter's young life was ending. He knew he was leaving 3 other precious children behind. Oh, how his heart must have ached! Can you even imagine the agony that played out in his mind? Every parent's worst nightmare happening to him in real time."

  • Sadly, Kobe wasn't the only parent on board that day who was faced with the same heart-wrenching circumstance.

    While the LAPD was still waiting to release all of the victims' names, news outlets and family members have since confirmed that other passengers on board the flight that day included several other parents and their children, who were teammates of Gigi. 

    One of those parents was 56-year-old John Altobelli, a head baseball coach at Orange Coast College. According to BuzzFeed News, he was traveling with his wife, Keri, and their 13-year-old daughter, Alyssa. The couple leaves behind two other children -- a son, J.J., and another daughter, Lexi.

    Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter, Payton, also died in the crash on Sunday, NBC News reported. Just like Alyssa and Gigi, Payton played on the travel team for Mamba Academy travel team, a youth sports training center founded by Bryant. The Mamba team was expected to play a game at noon, just two hours after the fatal crash.

    They were accompanied by their assistant coach, 38-year-old Christina Mauser. According to her husband, Mauser was hand-selected by Bryant to coach at Mamba Academy, because "she was amazing." In addition to her husband, she leaves behind three children, ages 11, 9, and 3. 

    The final victim of the crash was the pilot, Ara Zobayan. One of his flight students, Darren Kemp, told the Los Angeles Times that the pilot was a dedicated, caring instructor and experienced flier. He was also beloved by Bryant.

    “He doesn’t let anyone else fly him around but Ara,” Kemp told the newspaper.

  • So many lives, gone in seconds. And so many more lives torn apart in the process.

    It's for this reason that so many people across social media have called Sunday's accident a stark reminder that no day is promised.

    "Today I realized that leaving home and returning safely is a blessing I take for granted," wrote Laura Mazza of the blog Mum on the Run. "I realized that kissing my husband goodbye and seeing him later is something I should always cherish. Hugging my children goodbye and seeing them later is a gift. But we never think about these things until it’s too late."

    Oh, how true that is.

  • On Twitter, the outpouring of grief for the parents, children, and families affected has continued to flow.

    "It's still hard to believe that this actually happened," one person tweeted. "Life is not promised to any of us, so make the most of each moment. To the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy, go out to all of you. This is just truly sad."

    "Losing Kobe Bryant at only 41 is devastating enough ... but as a father I find my thoughts instinctively turning to his daughter ... and how any parent would die a thousand deaths if it meant their kids would be ok," someone else shared. "This is as sad a story as I can remember."

    "Hug your loved ones longer and tighter, tell them you love them, forgive anyone that has wronged you, apologize if you have wronged anyone, tomorrow is not promised, your safe return home is not guaranteed," tweeted someone else. "Be good to each other."

    In the end, that's all we can do.