NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, attended Catholic mass and took communion only hours before their fatal helicopter crash on Sunday, a report says.
According to church officials, the former L.A. Laker and his 13-year-old daughter attended the 7 am service at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach that Sunday morning, the Daily Mail reports.
The father and daughter left the service to board the player’s privately owned helicopter, which only a few hours later slammed into a hillside outside Calabasas, California, while flying in foggy conditions that morning. All nine people on board the flight were killed in the accident.
A church parishioner confirmed the attendance of the famed NBA star, telling the media, “During mass, our priest informed us all that Kobe Bryant and his daughter attended mass this morning at the Our Lady Queen of Angels.”
Father Timothy Freyer, Bishop of the Orange Diocese, posted a social media message saying that Bryant was a “committed Catholic” who “loved his faith.”
“Our hearts remain heavy after the tragic loss suffered in the wake of yesterday’s helicopter crash in Calabasas,” Bishop Freyer wrote on Facebook. “He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith.
“We pray and mourn for the friends and family of the victims who have been publicly identified in news reports: Basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” the bishop continued.
“A longtime Orange County resident and parishioner in our Diocese, Kobe would frequently attend Mass and sit in the back of the church so that his presence would not distract people from focusing on Christ’s Presence,” Bishop Freyer added.
“Please join me in praying for the victims. May God grant their loved ones peace and bring them comfort during these difficult times,” the bishop concluded.
Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church spokesperson, Julie Hermes, confirmed that the Bryant family often attended services at the church and noted that Bryant had discreetly slipped in to sit in the rear of the church that fateful morning.
“He attended the 7 am mass prior to going to the Orange County John Wayne Airport. He was very discreet. He would come in and stay at the back, and his family too, and then he would usually leave a little earlier prior to the very end of the service,” Hermes told the Mail.
“He was very much loved at the church, and he was very devout, very dedicated to his faith,” she added.
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