Kobe Bryant spent his last night before tragic helicopter death at Starbucks with daughter, 3January 28, 2020
KOBE Bryant spent his last night with two of his daughters – including three-year-old Bianka Bella – visiting his local Starbucks before dying in a helicopter crash, The Sun can reveal.
The basketball star, 41, was spotted with little Bianka outside Starbucks at a mall in Newport Coast, California, happily chatting to locals – while daughter Gianna, who also perished in the chopper accident, dashed into the coffee shop to grab their order.
Just hours later, he and daughter Gianna plummeted to their deaths in a fiery helicopter crash in Los Angeles, which killed all eight passengers on board and the pilot.
Local mom Jennifer Orcholski, 52, told The Sun she bumped into Kobe and Bianka outside the Starbucks on Saturday night, just hours before the fatal accident.
A Starbucks worker confirmed that Kobe was a regular at the store, which was located near his home, and had popped by on Saturday evening at around 7pm.
"I remember seeing the name Kobe on the order and expecting them to come in," the Starbucks worker said.
"It was Gianna who came in and got the order, she would often run in for them while he waited outside or in the car.
"When I heard the news on Sunday morning I did not believe it, I was like ‘no it cant be them, I just saw them."
Outside the Starbucks – about a mile from the basketball legend's home – Lakers-themed gold and purple bouquets of flowers stood as a tribute to Kobe.
Jennifer, who was visiting a makeshift shrine outside Kobe's home with her husband Kevin and daughter Bridget, said it was not unusual to see Kobe at Starbucks or in and around the community.
She said: "That's the kind of guy he was, you would just see him out in the community and he would say hello.
"No-one was starstruck of Kobe he was another member of our community."
Her daughter Bridget, 13, said her school friends knew Gianna, and they had played against her at basketball and volleyball.
She said: "I am just so sad at what has happened, it is very hard to understand and I am so sad for Gianna and for my friends."
"Gianna is the same age as me and so that is very hard for me."
The community was still in shock at the horror crash, which alongside Kobe and Gianna, claimed the lives of six other local people including baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, basketball coach Christina Mauser along with mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester.
Pilot Ara Zobayan also died.
Bridget's dad Kevin said that the Altobelli family also lived in their Newport Coast neighborhood.
Speaking outside the shrine he said: "We are here as the Altobeli family lived in our neighborhood and we wanted to pay our respects.
"We are very sad at all their loss, it is an indescribable tragedy.
"Living here you either knew these people or know someone who knew them.
"This is a very close community and it is going to take a long time to come to terms with.
"Everyone here has kids that play sports and so you come across these folks a lot."
Kobe and his family were regulars at their local mall – with one salon owner saying he and Gianna even came for manicures and pedicures together on New Year's Eve.
Nancy Vu, manager of Happy Nails, told The Sun: "He would come in once a month or so and often bring Gianna with him.
"He would sit in the corner quietly and get a mani/pedi, but he never ever took his sunglasses off.
"He was such a nice guy and everyone always wanted to say hello to him. We will miss him a lot."
Kobe and Gianna were on their way to the NBA legend's Mamba Sports Academy youth training center in Thousand Oaks when they were killed in the fatal chopper crash.
The helicopter plummeted nearly 500 feet in just 15 seconds before smashing into a Los Angeles hillside.
After circling for around 15 minutes, while air traffic control cleared air space, the chopper set off for its final destination in thick fog.
But it didn't make it and all aboard the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter were killed in the accident.
The impact scattered debris over an area the size of a football field. Just before the catastrophic impact, pilot Ara Zobayan, had tried to turn, banking south west.
Questions remain about why the aircraft was flying when most helicopter traffic was grounded, including the Los Angeles Police Department's own fleet, due to the foggy conditions.
Bodies were today removed from the crash site and a local and federal investigation into the cause of the crash is currently underway.
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