The bodies of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, 13, were released to their family members by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, a week after their helicopter went down killing both and seven others in California.
The 44-year-old NBA legend and his daughter were both killed when his helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, on January 26.
Their remains were returned after confirmation of their identity and a cause of death was determined by investigators, a spokeswoman for the office told DailyMail.com
The remains of the pilot, Ara Zobayan, and passengers Christina Mauser, 38, Sarah Chester, 45, and her 13-year-old daughter Payton, also have been released, the spokeswoman confirmed.
Passengers John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri, 46, and their daughter Alyssa, 14, are ready to be released, but have not yet been picked up by family members, according to the coroner’s office.
John Altobelli, had been a baseball coach at Orange Coast College, and Chester a girls’ basketball coach at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy.
The release of the remains comes after it was learned that Bryant’s widow will be given the items and memorabilia left by fans at a memorial outside the Staples Center for her late husband.
Bryant, who won five NBA championships, and was an 18-time All-Star, spent his entire 20-season career playing for the LA Lakers, which plays at the arena.
His wife Vanessa Bryant has asked to be given some of the items left by thousands grieving fans, after the tragedy, the cause of which remains under investigation by the National Transportation and Safety Board.
The Staples Center said it plans to ship the non-perishable items – including t-shirts, letters and basketballs – left at the memorial to the Bryant family when it is dismantled.
‘Vanessa had reached out to us and said: ‘Our family would like the items out there’,’ Lee Zeidman, president of the Staples Center, told the LA Times.
‘So we’re going to catalog every one of them. By that I mean, T-shirts, letters, basketballs, stuffed animals, toys. We’re going to put those in specially made containers and we’re going to ship them to the family.’
The Staples Center was to start dismantling the memorial on Sunday night due to ‘contractually obligated events’ that are scheduled.
The flowers that have been left by fans will be used as compost around the area.
‘So that means that all those fans that took the time to buy the flowers and plants and brought them down there, some of that will still be around the site,’ Zeidman said.
Vanessa also posted a heartbreaking tribute to her husband and daughter on the same night the Lakers honored them during an emotional game at Staples Center on Friday.
She shared a photo on Instagram of Bryant’s LA Lakers jersey and their daughter’s basketball jersey draped over two empty courtside chairs.
‘There is no #24 without #2,’ Vanessa wrote in the caption.
The Lakers placed Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s basketball jerseys over the backrests while bouquets of red roses were rested on the seats.
Gianna played on the amateur girls’ basketball team coached by her father at his Mamba Academy.
Bryant, his daughter, and the seven other victims were remembered before and during Friday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers – the first Lakers game since Sunday’s tragedy.
Vanessa was not present at the game.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ralph R. Ortega