Hours after news broke that the legendary basketball star and eight others (including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna) died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, fans started uncovering some of Bryant's past interviews. One that's been making the rounds around the internet was a December 2018 sit-down for The Corp With A-Rod and Big Cat, where Bryant explained the heartfelt reason for flying versus driving.
Bryant revealed that he started relying on helicopters so that he could spend more time with Gianna, along with his wife, Vanessa, and their other children -- Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
"Traffic started getting really, really bad. And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing, like, a school play, because I was sitting in traffic," he told former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and Barstool Sports journalist Dan Katz. "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 [from home in Orange County to practice in Los Angeles] in 15 minutes."
"My wife was like, 'Listen, I can pick them [from school],' and I was like, 'No, no, no. I want to do that,'" he continued. "You have, like, road trips and times where you don't see your kids. So every chance I get to see them, to spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car, like, I want that."
Watch below around the 36:25 mark:
Early Monday, ET spoke with Bryant's former pilot, Kurt Deetz, who recalled what it was like traveling with the Los Angeles Lakers star from 2015-2017.
"I respected him. He respected me. I was there to do a job and just fly," he shared. "He was just so gracious and professional. In my interactions with him ... head nods, thumbs up and that was enough. That's acknowledgment."
Deetz added that he remembered a specific flight Bryant took on Father's Day, that was filled with laughter and love. "Even on that Father's Day interaction with his daughters, there's always that shoving and joking and a lot of giggling," he shared. "A lot of giggling in the back. It is kind of heartwarming in a way."