Kobe Bryant suffered 30% burns in crash, body identified by his tattoos and trademark 'multicolored court shoes'

An autopsy has revealed how Kobe Bryant died of blunt trauma with fatal brain injuries and 30 percent burns to his body


                            Kobe Bryant suffered 30% burns in crash, body identified by his tattoos and trademark 'multicolored court shoes'
(Getty Images)

An autopsy has revealed how Kobe Bryant died of blunt trauma with fatal brain injuries and 30 percent burns to his body. Forensic examination noted that the NBA legend was "unrecognizable" and could only be differentiated by the tattoos of his wife, kids, and his trademark "multicolored court shoes" the day he died. Kobe, daughter Gianna, and seven others died after their helicopter crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, on January 26, sustaining immediate fatal injuries in the accident.

Reports released by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, obtained by ESPN, put into light how brutal the crash was and described broken bones, dismembered body parts, and a stench of fuel on what remains of clothing that burned.

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)

The identity of Kobe, 41, one of the most iconic sports figures in Los Angeles, had to be verified by his fingerprints after his body was found in the dirt outside the wreckage of the chopper. Meanwhile, his 13-year-old daughter was found in a ravine on the opposite side, per the autopsy report. The disturbing report made it clear that Bryant and the other passengers had almost certainly suffered an instant death due to blunt trauma. "These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal," senior deputy medical examiner Juan Carrillo wrote in Bryant's report.

Although he was unrecognizable, a forensic examination of Kobe's body noted a tattoo of a crown on his right shoulder, above where his wife's name, Vanessa, was inked. The tattoos also noted the names of three of his four daughters, Bianka Bella, Natalie Diamante, and Gianna Maria-Onore, on his lower right arm, and he was wearing his trademark "multicolored court shoes." Examiners found methylphenidate in the basketballer's system. Sold under the brand name Ritalin, it is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) had previously reported how the autopsy found pilot Ara Zobayan had no alcohol or drugs in his system. Toxicology reports had screened and tested for cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, marijuana, and alcohol, reports from the LA County coroner revealed. The pilot had reportedly been told that he was flying too low only moments before the chopper crashed into a hillside due to dense fog and low visibility. In audio footage obtained by The Sun, the controller can be heard saying, "Two echo x-ray you are still too low for flight following at this time." An investigation was launched to see why the chopper had decided to fly in unfavorable conditions when most air traffic had been grounded over the same. 

In this handout photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, an investigator works at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 27, 2020, in Calabasas, California. (Getty Images)

Ultimately, the crash that killed all nine was considered accidental, but the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet concluded what caused it. They said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76. The agency, however, did highlight that it did not have a terrain awareness and warning system, which signals when an aircraft is in danger of hitting the ground. The NTSB has recommended that the system be mandatory for helicopters, but the Federal Aviation Administration mandates it only for Air Ambulances. Kobe Bryant is the only NBA player whose death caused his team to retire two numbers in his honor. Last month, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A ceremony to officiate the same was originally scheduled for late August, although that might be postponed until later owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

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