This is the story behind why Kobe Bryant preferred to travel in a helicopter

The late NBA legend spoke about his need to use a helicopter in a 2018 interview

Kobe Bryant, the NBA legend the world has mourned collectively for the last day, once shared how owning his own helicopter brought ease to his family life.

The 41-year-old, his 13-year-old Gianna and seven other friends were killed when the former Los Angeles Laker’s  Sikorsky S-76 crashed into a hillside near Calabasas, California. The crash happened about 10 a.m. Sunday local time, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Bryant was traveling to coach his daughter’s game in Thousand Oaks, California.

More on Kobe Bryant’s death and the crash:

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ExploreSikorsky S-76 helicopter made by Lockheed Martin Black Hawk manufacturer

Taking a multimillion-dollar aircraft to a kid’s basketball game likely seems like an unusual choice, even for one of the most influential players of professional basketball. The helicopter, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, seats 12 passengers, reaches a top speed of 178 mph and costs about $12 million, according to the manufacturer’s website.

In a detail that at the time seemed inconsequential, Bryant explained to an interviewer why he opted to use a helicopter for practical, daily use. He was interviewed by his friend and fellow athletic legend Alex Rodriguez and Big Cat in a December 2018 interview.

In the 25-minute interview, he talked about his career as a five-time NBA champion, his favorite players and games and one of his favorite topics, his family.

He spoke about how Los Angeles traffic made it difficult to make it to his children’s various activities. He said the challenge began to be too much when the events he missed due to traffic started “mounting.”

He said he started using a helicopter before he retired from the Lakers in 2016. With advent of the quick travel option, Bryant said he could get up in the morning to see his children off, train for games with weights during the day, handle media requests and still make it back to his daughters’ school.

"Traffic started getting really bad. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and still focus on the craft but still not compromise family time. That's when I looked into helicopters — to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes." — Kobe Bryant, in a 2018 interview

Bryant had been married to his wife Vanessa for about 20 years. The couple raised four children together: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri.

Since Bryant had to travel several weeks out of the year, being able to get to his children’s activities and school was priority. His wife told him she could carry the load of school pickup when he was in town, but Bryant said those short car rides were significant for him.

“You have road trips and time where you don’t see your kids, man,” he said during the interview. “So, every time I get to see them and spend time with them — even if it’s just 20 minutes in the car, I want that.”

Watch the full interview with Bryant here: