In the days following a devastating helicopter crash in Los Angeles that killed nine, including NBA star, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, late night talk show host, Stephen Colbert paid tribute to the former Lakers player during Tuesday Night's episode of The Late Show. In the segment on his CBS show, Colbert discussed the connection he feels to the late basketball icon that he never wants anyone to experience.
In 1974, when Colbert was just 10 years old, his father, James William Colbert, Jr., and two brothers, Peter and Paul, were killed when the flight they were on, Eastern Airlines Flight 212 crashed in a cornfield in North Carolina due to a pilot error. On Sunday, Bryant and eight others were killed after their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California.
"I feel a strange connection to his family and his friends and those who loved him and those who've gone through this particular tragedy," Colbert said on Tuesday. "Because I lost my father and two of my brothers when I was a boy to a plane crash that was also in heavy fog."
The host continued, "One of the terrible things about that shock and the heartbreaking unreality, nightmare quality of someone huge in your life who just disappears, the center of your love disappearing in that moment, is not knowing what happened."
Bryant was traveling in a helicopter with eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter "Gigi," when it crashed after hitting a ravine. No one on board survived. The crash, which happened on Sunday morning, occurred in dense fog after pilot Ara Zobayan had received special permission to fly at less than the basic visual flight rules of a 1,000-foot ceiling and 3 miles of visibility.
Colbert also advocated for the improvement of safety standards in helicopters, calling for the inclusion of black box recorders — something Bryant's helicopter did not have. That recommendation was previously made by the National Transportation Safety Board along with a recommendation that all helicopters be equipped with a terrain and awareness and warning system, or TAWS. Both suggestions were not adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The other victims of the crash included Gianna's basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Altobelli's parents John and Keri Altobelli, Chester's mom Sarah Chester, girls' basketball coach Christina Mauser and Zobayan. The helicopter was traveling to the Mamba Sports Academy, which is located in Newbury Park, California.
Colbert is one of many late-night hosts who have remembered Bryant over the past few days. On Monday, Jimmy Kimmel decided to forgo a studio audience and instead re-air clips of Bryant's 15 appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Jimmy Fallon used Monday's episode of The Tonight Show to fondly recall the first time he met the NBA player.