NBA superstar Kobe Bryant attended church two hours before his death last Sunday in a helicopter accident, according to members of a Catholic church in California.
A spokeswoman for Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, Julia Hermes, told The Daily Mail that 41-year-old Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna received Communion at the 7am service.
“I’m told generally 7am was his mass,” said the spokeswoman. “He was very discreet. He would come in and stay at the back, and his family too, and then he would usually leave a little earlier prior to the very end of the service.
“He was very much loved at the church, and he was very devout, very dedicated to his faith.”
Gianna Bryant was also killed when the helicopter travelling to a basketball game crashed. All nine aboard died.Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years, Bryant retired in 2016 as a five-time NBA champion and duel Olympic gold medallist. One of the greatest NBA players of all time, Bryant is in the top 5 highest point scorers.
Bryant was a practicing Catholic who credits a priest with saving his marriage. In 2003, Bryant was accused of raping a woman. He denied that allegation but admitted to having sex with her, which caused Bryant’s wife Vanessa to leave him and, eventually, file for divorce in 2011.
But Bryant was able to reconcile with his wife and, as he told GQ in 2015, the advice of a Catholic priest was crucial.
“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,’” he told GQ.
“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.”
Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa have four daughters, Gianna, who was also killed in the crash, and Natalia, Bianka and Capri (who was born last year).