Not even four weeks into January, we were hit with the news we all assumed would be among the worst we’d hear in 2020. And even after a full year of loss and grief, isolation and anxiety, the events of Jan. 26, 2020, still feel overwhelmingly heartbreaking.
The devastation came in waves on that Sunday morning just 12 months ago. What felt unbelievable at first—that a giant like Kobe Bryant could be taken from us at the age of 41—only became more unimaginable as the hours wore on.
By nighttime, as celebrities poured into Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the site of that evening’s Grammys and the spot where the NBA legend had spent his prolific 20-season career, the pieces were coming together: Just before 10 a.m., a helicopter making the 85-mile trip from Orange County’s John Wayne Airport to the Mamba Sports Academy near Thousand Oaks, Calif., for a youth basketball tournament had crashed into the hills of Calabasas. All nine passengers aboard died instantly.