Priest Recalls Seeing Kobe Bryant 'Praying' in Church on the Morning of Helicopter Crash

A lot of people saw Kobe Bryant in the final hours before his death two weeks ago, including a priest at his family's church. Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26 with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. Now, fans are getting a clearer picture of his final day.

Bryant was essentially following his usual routine on the day of his death, but there are some parts of it that may strike fans as auspicious. According to a report by The New York Times, Bryant was spotted by a priest at Our Lady Queen of Angels before his final flight.

Bryant was awake before sunrise that day, and he got to his family's preferred Catholic church before the first mass even began at 7 a.m. The church is about five miles from the Bryant family's seaside mansion in Orange County, California.

The priest told reporters that he bumped into Bryant leaving as he was heading in for the early-morning mass. The two shook hands, and the priest noted a droplet of holy water on Bryant's forehead. He believed the NBA legend had been praying.

Out Lady Queen of Angels is a lavish, modern church, with a large patio and a fountain out front. Inside, priests use a speaker system to project their sermons throughout the large space. Bryant was reportedly fond of sitting near the back, trying to blend in and not draw attention away from the service.

This is just a part of the mental image fans are starting to gather about Bryant's final day. His passing has had a profound effect on the world of sports and pop culture in general, as many lauded him for his generosity and values off the court.

It was Bryant's dedication to fatherhood that put him in a helicopter in the first place. In a 2018 interview on The Corp, he explained that he had first begun using the aircrafts regularly so that he could "still train and focus on the craft, but not compromise family time."

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"So, that's when I looked into helicopters," he said. "[I'd] be able to get down and back in fifteen minutes. And that's when it started. So my routine was always the same: weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work — media, everything I needed to do — fly back, get back in the carpool line and pick the kids up."

"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."