When NBA legend Kobe Bryant first took up interest in traveling by helicopter, he and his wife Vanessa Bryant reportedly struck a deal that they would never fly together. The shocking revelation, made by a source who spoke to PEOPLE, comes after the 41-year-old former Lakers player, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a Calabasas, California helicopter crash over the weekend.
"He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together," the source told the outlet, adding that Bryant "only" flew in helicopters with pilot Ara Zobayan, who had been piloting the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter in dense fog en route to a youth basketball game when it went down just before 10 a.m. PT.
Bryant had begun traveling by helicopter as a means to get in more family time, as the aircrafts offered a way to avoid the bustling traffic on L.A. roads. In a 2018 interview on The Corp, the NBA legend had opened up about his interest in using helicopters for travel.
"I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play," he said. "I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. So that's when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that's when it started."
"My wife was like 'listen, I can pick them up,'" Bryant recalled. "I'm like, 'No no no! I want to do that.' Because you know, you have road trips and times when you don't see your kids, man. So like, every time I got the chance to see them and spend time with them, even if it's 20 minutes in the car...like, I want that."
Bryant, Gianna, John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, and Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton Chester had been on their way to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy for a basketball game when the chopper went down.
At this time, an official cause for the crash is unknown, though investigators are looking into possible mechanical issues and weather conditions. According to reports, the aircraft had been given "special clearance to fly at or below 2,500 feet in dangerous weather conditions," which included extremely dense fog that had grounded the LAPD's helicopter fleet.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa and three of their four children – Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.