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Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna attended mass, received communion hours before boarding ill-fated helicopter

The pair reportedly left Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach and boarded their S-76 Sikorsky helicopter, heading for Gianna's basketball practice.
UPDATED JAN 28, 2020
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant. (Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant. (Getty Images)

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna prayed together at Catholic mass at their local church, just hours before they and seven others tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, according to reports. 

Bryant and Gianna went to the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach for the 7am service, and they both received Communion, according to the Daily Mail. The pair reportedly left and soon boarded their S-76 Sikorsky helicopter piloted by Ara Zobyan. As the two were heading to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for Gigi's basketball practice, the chopper crashed into a hillside near Calabasas around 9:30 am. There were no survivors. 

A parishioner took to social media to write: "During mass, our priest informed us all that Kobe Bryant and his daughter attended mass this morning at the Our Lady Queen of Angels."

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference warms up with daughter Gianna Bryant during the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. (Getty Images)

Father David Barnes, a Catholic priest in Boston, Massachusetts, also confirmed Bryant's attendance. "A friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of her’s (sic) saw #KobeBryant at #Catholic Mass this morning," Barnes tweeted. "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."

Bishop Timothy Freyer, of the Orange Diocese, also took to social media to express his condolences. The Bishop wrote on Facebook: "Our hearts remain heavy after the tragic loss suffered in the wake of yesterday’s helicopter crash in Calabasas. We pray and mourn for the friends and family of the victims who have been publicly identified in news reports: Basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa. Basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan."

Memorial signage hangs near people mourning for former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, near Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

Freyer, who is currently in Rome meeting the Pope, added: "Kobe was a basketball icon who inspired us through his words and actions to set our goals, work hard and achieve our dreams.  He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith. A longtime Orange County resident and parishioner in our Diocese, Kobe would frequently attend Mass and sit in the back of the church so that his presence would not distract people from focusing on Christ’s Presence. Please join me in praying for the victims. May God grant their loved ones peace and bring them comfort during these difficult times."

A spokesperson for Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church said that Bryant slipped in at the back of the service and left early to avoid disturbing other parishioners.