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The Kobe Timeline, April-October 2020: First-ballot Hall of Fame nod, birthday tributes and Lakers' 17th NBA title

Ben Rohrbach
·9-min read

The Kobe Bryant timeline, a year of tragedy and triumph, begins Jan. 25, 2020 and ends Oct. 11, 2020. The following are events from April-October 2020, including Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame nod, what would have been his 42nd birthday and the Lakers bringing back the “Black Mamba” jerseys en route to the franchise’s 17th championship.

Part I: The Kobe Timeline: Remembering the fallen Lakers legend, from tragedy to triumph

Part II: The Kobe Timeline, February-March 2020: Vanessa's emotional, moving eulogy at public memorial

April 4, 2020

Kobe Bryant is officially a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee.

“It’s an incredible accomplishment and honor, and we’re extremely proud of him,” Vanessa Bryant says. “Obviously, we wish that he was here with us to celebrate, but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career.”

April 13, 2020

On the fourth anniversary of Bryant’s farewell game, his widow laments his shortened retirement on Instagram. “All he wanted was to spend time with our girls and me to make up for lost time,” she writes.

April 17, 2020

Prior to Sabrina Ionescu’s selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert honorarily selects Gianna and her fallen teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester.

The draft ends with the announcement of an annual Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award, recognizing “an individual or group that made significant contributions to the visibility and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.”

April 18, 2020

On what would have been their 19th wedding anniversary, Vanessa Bryant writes to her late husband on Instagram, “My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much.”

April 20, 2020

Surviving members of the Altobelli and Mauser families join Vanessa Bryant in filing wrongful death lawsuits against Island Express Helicopters in Los Angeles Superior Court. Neither lawsuit names pilot Ara Zobayan.

April 24, 2020

As Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance” docuseries captivates an isolated nation starved for sports, ESPN reports that Bryant had granted a film crew similar behind-the-scenes access to his final season. He had reportedly been involved in the editing process of an impending documentary as recently as late 2019.

May 1, 2020

On what would have been Gianna Bryant’s 14th birthday, Vanessa shares another heartbreaking message.

“Happy birthday to my sweet baby girl, Gianna. Mommy loves you more than I could ever show you,” she writes. “You are part of MY SOUL forever. I miss you so much everyday. I wish I could wake up and have you here with me. I miss your smile, your hug and your giggles. I miss EVERYTHING about YOU, Gigi.”

May 3, 2020

Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” begins with the message, “In loving memory of Kobe Bryant.” Footage from the episode shows Jordan discussing “that little Laker boy,” 19-year-old Bryant, at the 1998 All-Star Game.

Filmed prior to his death, Bryant says of Jordan, “What you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him, because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.”

May 5, 2020

On Vanessa Bryant’s 38th birthday, she opens a letter she found a day earlier in an envelope meant for “The Love of my Life.” She writes on Instagram, “I waited to open one more letter on my birthday.”

May 8, 2020

Vanessa Bryant sues the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after a group of eight first responders allegedly took and shared graphic images from the crash site on their personal phones.

May 11, 2020

In court documents defending his brother against the Bryant family’s wrongful death lawsuit, Berge Zobayan argues that the passengers on board were aware of the risks of flying on the day of the crash.

May 12, 2020

Out of respect for Kobe Bryant, Mamba Sports Academy drops “Mamba” from its name.

“We were fortunate to learn from Kobe,” Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner tells The Undefeated, maintaining his mission. “We will carry on much of those learnings that we have in a respectful way."

May 15, 2020

Autopsy results reveal Zobayan was not intoxicated at the time of the helicopter crash.

May 21, 2020

A list of Kobe Bryant memorabilia nearly 100 items long sells at auction, including a 2000 championship ring gifted to Bryant’s mother, Pam. The auction — previously planned to coincide with Bryant’s Hall of Fame induction — plans to donate a portion of proceeds to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

A month earlier, the towel adorning Bryant’s shoulder during an on-court farewell speech following his final game — the one he famously finished by saying, “Mamba out” — sold at a virtual auction for $33,077.16.

June 5, 2020

Deni Božić and a group of local artists finish a 19-foot wide painting of Bryant — believed to be the largest mural in Europe — on the exterior of an elementary school in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In seven months, more than 300 murals dedicated to the Lakers legend are cataloged and mapped around the world.

June 11, 2020

Vanessa Bryant reveals that she had a pair of “sweet” messages from Kobe and Gianna tattooed on her right shoulder and right wrist.

June 17, 2020

The NTSB investigation alleges Zobayan may have been disoriented in the moments before the crash. The pilot had told air traffic controllers he was ascending to 4,000 feet when the helicopter was in the midst of its final and fatal descent. The flight path also suggests Zobayan may have been disoriented.

Additionally, the investigation reveals Zobayan shared his concerns about the weather on the eve of the crash, informing a group from Island Express Helicopters via text, “Just checked not the best day tomorrow but it is not as bad as today.” In the hours before the crash, Zobayan added, “Morning Weather looking ok.”

June 18, 2020

Vanessa Bryant calls on Congress to pass the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act, which would require the Terrain Awareness and Warning System in passenger helicopters. She says in a statement to CNN, “I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation.”

June 21, 2020

Vanessa Bryant shares her Father’s Day message to her late husband on Instagram.

• The day ends with a 2:38 tribute to Bryant at the ESPYs, narrated by Snoop Dogg.

June 22, 2020

Zobayan’s family seeks to move Vanessa Bryant’s wrongful death lawsuit from LA to Orange County, citing Kobe’s popularity with the jury pool. All passengers were also Orange County residents.

“No other single individual in recent memory, sports figure or otherwise, has been considered by the people to be such a personification of their city of Los Angeles,” the documents filed in court read, TMZ reported.

July 2, 2020

NBA 2K21 unveils Bryant as the last of three cover athletes for its famed video game. The game features a tributary track performed by Damian Lillard, a.k.a. Dame D.O.L.L.A., Snoop Dogg and Derrick Milano.

July 19, 2020

Bryant is posthumously awarded the Los Angeles Area Emmy Governors Award for his “philanthropy, community building and inspiration beyond the court. Composer John Williams, who scored Bryant’s Oscar-winning short, “Dear Basketball,” accepts the Emmy award on behalf of the Bryant family.

July 21, 2020

Geese are Never Swans,” a young adult book Bryant co-wrote with psychologist Eva Clark, hits bookshelves. The project focuses on the theme of mental health struggles facing uniquely driven athletes.

Aug. 14, 2020

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially reschedules the induction ceremony planned for Bryant, Duncan and Garnett for May 13-15, 2021.

Aug. 23, 2020

• On what would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday, scores of athletes pay tribute to the fallen hero.

• Vanessa Bryant also wishes her late husband happy birthday on Instagram.

Nike launches its “Mamba Week” campaign with the first release of Bryant’s jersey and signature sneakers since his death. The company also dedicates $1 million to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Aug. 24, 2020

On Mamba Day — the annual calendar date that bears Bryant’s two jersey numbers — Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. announces that the portion of Figueroa Street that borders Staples Center and intersects with Chick Hearn Court in Los Angeles will be renamed Kobe Bryant Boulevard.

In Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers sport their snakeskin-patterned “Black Mamba” uniforms, complete with Gianna’s No. 2 stitched into a heart on the shoulder. Bryant helped design the uniforms in 2018. Lillard also wore Nos. 8 and 24 on his sneakers.

The Lakers take a 24-8 lead en route to a 135-115 win that gives them a 3-1 series advantage.

“When I looked up and saw we were up 24-8,” James shares, “I was like, ‘OK, he’s here in the building.’”

Sept. 13, 2020

Pau Gasol and his wife name their newborn daughter Elisabet Gianna Gasol. She is Vanessa Bryant’s goddaughter. Pictures of Gasol consoling the Bryant family have been prevalent in recent months.

Sept. 27, 2020

After James posts a triple-double to eliminate the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals, he tells Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes one regret about his relationship with Bryant: The two transcendent superstars never got around to a long-planned dinner with the responsibility of leading the Lakers in LA on the menu.

“And then probably talk about us never meeting in the Finals. Just apologizing to him,” James told Haynes. In f***ing ’09 when I lost to Dwight [Howard], that would have been a great conversation for sure. You know, just to be like, we didn’t give the people what they wanted. We didn’t give them what they wanted.”

Oct. 3, 2020

Sporting his “Black Mamba” jersey for the fourth time — all victories — James honors the surviving members of the Bryant family after his Lakers take a 2-0 edge against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

“They’re with us, we’re with you guys, we love you guys,” James says on the broadcast, “and hopefully we’re making them proud by wearing these uniforms tonight and throughout the course of the postseason.”

Oct. 11, 2020

The Lakers win the franchise’s 17th championship and the first since Bryant last won in 2010. During the trophy presentation, Lakers star Anthony Davis dedicates the victory to their predecessor.

“We didn’t let him down,” says Davis. “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do is do it for him. ... It means a lot to us. It’s a tough moment. He was a big brother to all of us, and we did this for him.”

Part I: The Kobe Timeline: Remembering the fallen Lakers legend, from tragedy to triumph

Part II: The Kobe Timeline, February-March 2020: Vanessa's emotional, moving eulogy at public memorial

– – – – – – –

Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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