In the first reports about the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 41, daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, and 7 others, it was rumored that Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers teammate Rick Fox, 50, had died in the crash as well. That horrible rumor turned out not to be true and Rick broke his silence about the terrible situation on TNT’s Inside the NBA on Jan. 28. “My family went through, in the midst of all this, something that I couldn’t imagine them experiencing,” Rick said. “One of my daughter’s greatest fears is finding out that one of her parents has been lost through social media, instead of from a loved one or a family member. And she, fortunately, called me and we were just talking and crying about the news of Kobe.”
While he was talking with his kids, Sasha and Kyle, Rick said he started getting a flurry of calls from different people. “The phone starts going off, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Everybody wants to talk about Kobe.’ And right now I want to be with my kids and my family,” Rick continued. He didn’t answer the incoming calls until his best friend, basketball coach King Rice, called.
“I’m seeing King’s number repeatedly going and going and going, and so I think he’s worried about me, so I said, ‘I’m gonna talk to my best friend,’ so I answered and said, ‘Hey man, this is crazy about Kobe,’ and he just was bawling,” Rick said. “He was like, ‘You’re alive!’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah. What do you mean?’ And it was in that moment that my phone just started going, and my mom and my sister and my brother [were calling].” He added: “I’m glad that [the rumor] is over with, but it was hard to deal with because it shook a lot of people in my life.”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 29, 2020
Kobe and Gianna were on their way from Calabasas to Mamba Academy for basketball practice in Thousand Oaks with Gianna’s teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, her parents, Keri and John Altobelli, Harbor Day School assistant coach Christina Mauser, another one of Gianna’s teammates Payton Chester and mother Sarah Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The crash occurred at around 10 a.m. PT on Jan. 26 and all 9 people on board the helicopter were killed.
“This has been a lot to process for all of us,” Rick said. “Quite frankly, we were blessed to have had the time we had with Kobe. A city is mourning, a family is mourning, we are all mourning.”