Former NBA star Kobe Bryant reportedly attended Mass Sunday morning, right before he, his daughter, and seven other passengers were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, according to The Daily Wire.
"A friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of hers saw Kobe Bryant at Catholic Mass this morning," wrote David Barnes, whose Twitter profile identifies him as "Catholic Priest and Director of the Catholic Newman Center at Boston University." "Mass is the worship of God. Heaven is the worship of God. Go to Mass here so that you can worship God forever in heaven."
Bryant said he was raised Catholic and that his children also ascribed to the Catholic faith. That faith helped him get through the aftermath of being accused of rape in 2003, he told GQ in 2015:
The one thing that really helped me during that process — I'm Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic — was talking to a priest. It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, "Did you do it?" And I say, "Of course not." Then he asks, "Do you have a good lawyer?" And I'm like, "Uh, yeah, he's phenomenal." So then he just said, "Let it go. Move on. God's not going to give you anything you can't handle, and it's in his hands now. This is something you can't control. So let it go." And that was the turning point.
Bryant is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players at all time. He won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2002, before his life was nearly derailed by a 2003 accusation of rape by a 19-year-old woman in Colorado.
Bryant, who was married, confessed to infidelity but maintained that the encounter was consensual. The sexual assault charges were ultimately dropped, and Bryant settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser and reconciled the situation with his wife, who he remained married to until his death.
He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and three children. Nine people died in the helicopter crash: Bryant; his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna; Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter; Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; and Christina Muser, a coach for Bryant's youth basketball team.