Bryant and his daughter went to the 7 AM service at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach where they both received Communion before they left to board the helicopter.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, lovingly known as Gigi, attended a Catholic mass at their local church hours before they both died in the tragic helicopter crash, reveals Daily Mail. The basketball legend and his daughter went to the 7 AM service at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach where they both received Communion. They left the church and soon after boarded the S-76 Sikorsky helicopter piloted by Ara Zobayan. The helicopter crashed into a hillside near Calabasas around 9.30 AM, and firefighters responded to a 911 call at 9.47 AM. All nine people on board died.
A spokesman for Our Lady Queen of Angels confirmed that Bryant and Gigi were present at the early morning service on Sunday. One parishioner, who attended a later mass at the church, wrote on social media, "During mass, our priest informed us all that Kobe Bryant and his daughter attended mass this morning at the Our Lady Queen of Angels." Father David Barnes, a Catholic priest in Boston, Massachusetts, also confirmed the Bryants' attendance.
On Sunday, Father Barnes tweeted: A friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of hers saw #KobeBryant at #Catholic Mass this morning. 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, who is currently in Rome meeting the Pope, wrote a moving eulogy on Facebook: He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith. He also wrote: 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.Kobe was an icon who inspired us through his words and actions to set our goals, work hard and achieve our dreams. 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.
Julie Hermes, a spokeswoman for Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church said the late basketball legend slid in at the back of the service and left early so that he wouldn't disturb other parishioners. "He attended the 7 AM mass prior to going to the Orange County John Wayne Airport," said Hermes. "He was very discreet. He would come in and stay at the back, and his family too, and then he would usually leave 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." Hermes then revealed she attended the first mass after the Lakers star's death was announced, and the churchgoers, many of whom knew Kobe, were deeply shocked by the news. "Everybody was stunned. It was like silence. Everybody was in shock. It was very still. When the 12 pm mass ended, because that was the first mass after anybody knew, everybody walked out in silence and were glued to their cell phones looking up any information they could get online."
"Our parishioners knew him not just from the church but from the community because Kobe was a great part of this community. That’s how I know him too. I live very close to him at Newport Coast. He was a like regular guy, you wouldn’t know he was a celebrity. He would go out on his own without bodyguards." Hermes said that the Queen of Angels Church also held a rosary service at 7.45 AM on Monday, which was attended by Kobe fans studying at the nearby University of Irvine.
Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.