Kobe Bryant’s heartbroken mother Pamela was seen for the first time since losing her son, 41, and her 13-year-old granddaughter Gigi in a helicopter crash that claimed seven other lives.
Grieving Pamela, 65, had not emerged from her Las Vegas home since the tragedy that rocked the sports world last Sunday until she was seen running errands on Friday morning.
Forlorn Pamela left her gated complex alone driving a black Ford Expedition and headed to a nearby Target.
She was then seen entering a beauty salon, wearing a white patterned headband, orange flared leggings and a black top, where she stayed for a few hours.
Kobe’s father, 65-year-old retired NBA star Joe, affectionately known as Jellybean, was seen outside the couple’s home on Monday after a giant bouquet of yellow flowers were delivered.
Earlier this week DailyMail.com learned that Pamela and Joe’s lives have been turned ‘upside down’ by the death of their son and granddaughter.
A neighbor, who asked not to be named, said the family is too heartbroken to comment on the tragedy and are grieving privately.
‘They are just devastated, as you can imagine,’ the neighbor said, adding: ‘It’s a private, awful moment, losing their son and grand-daughter, it’s just horrific… their lives were turned upside down.’
The neighbor said Joe and Pamela are ‘very close’ to their daughters Sharia and Shaya who live in Las Vegas and the family has been rallying together, adding: ‘They just need their peace, it’s been nonstop.
‘It’s a sensitive time, I can’t even imagine what they’re going through. They are lovely, kind, decent people.’
The neighbor added: ‘They are just devastated, as you can imagine. It’s a private, awful moment, losing their son and grand-daughter, it’s just horrific.
Kobe had a fraught relationship with his parents, stemming from their disapproval of his relationship with his future wife Vanessa and when they tried to auction his high school memorabilia and two Lakers championship rings from 2000 without his consent in 2013.
The NBA star filed suit against the auction house but later settled to allow his parents to auction off six items that totaled $500,000.
In an interview from 2016, Kobe said he hadn’t spoken to them in three years, saying: ‘Our relationship is s**t. I say [to them], ”I’m going to buy you a very nice home”, and the response is ”That’s not good enough”?’
Kobe’s former coach and best friend of his father Joe, Wayne Slappy, told DailyMail.com that the NBA star’s family is struggling to deal with a ‘black hole’ left by his death.
The 67-year-old basketball coach, who has been close friends with Joe for decades, said Kobe’s family have been left feeling empty.
‘Can you imagine a black hole? It’s empty, how do you fill it? They’re a close-knit family. He was 41-years-old, and then his daughter dies in an accident with him too,’ Slappy said.
He added: ‘His family are going to miss him more than you can begin to imagine. I know NBA players whose kids can’t stand them, they never spent any time with them. That ain’t Kobe.
‘He grew up with his family loving each other. He was doing the same thing his father did for him, for his daughters, to the best of his ability.’
Slappy also described how Kobe hugged his father at a recent basketball camp in Santa Barbara, suggesting the family had reconciled some of their past disputes.
‘I just remember being with him up at his camp in Santa Barbara, and seeing him hug his dad. You know how they loved each other from how they looked at each other, how they smiled,’ he said.
‘Everybody’s family has issues, disagreements here and there. The healing comes, but this healing is going to be hard because he’s not here.’
Slappy said despite deep divisions between Kobe and his parents earlier in the former Lakers star’s life, their family bond remained strong, and his late daughter Gigi was close with her grandfather Joe, affectionately nicknamed Jellybean by his friends.
The 67-year-old’s voice broke as he added: ‘Kobe was starting to look so much more like him as he was getting older.’
Kobe leaves behind wife Vanessa, daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, three, seven-month-old Capri, and his parents and sisters Sharia and Shaya.
The father and daughter had prayed together at Catholic mass at their local church hours before they both died in the tragic helicopter crash, DailyMail.com revealed
The basketball legend and 13-year-old Gigi went to the 7am service at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach. They both received Communion.
They then left the church and soon afterwards boarded the S-76 Sikorsky helicopter piloted by Ara Zobyan which was taking them to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for Gigi’s basketball practice.
The helicopter crashed into a hillside near Calabasas around 9.30am, firefighters responded to a 911 call at 9.47am. Nine people perished on board.
It was revealed this week that pilot Ara Zobayan, although being licensed for instrument flying, he didn’t have legal authority for that specific flight to fly in conditions that would require him to only use cockpit instruments.
Island Express Helicopters, which owned the Sikorsky S-76B that crashed in California on Sunday, was only certified to operate under visual flight rules, which means pilots must be able to clearly see outside the aircraft in daylight.
Zobayan didn’t have legal authority for that specific flight because the charter company did not have the necessary Federal Aviation Administration certification, sources told the New York Times.
The company has since revealed they are grounding all flights in the wake of the devastating crash.
Zobayan, had been climbing out of the clouds when the chartered aircraft went into a sudden and terrifying 1,200-foot descent that lasted nearly a minute. It slammed into a fog-shrouded hillside, scattering debris more than 500 feet.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ryan Parry