Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (2024)

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9:58 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian

From CNN's Francisco Guzman and Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman

For the next seven days, every professional team in all levels of basketball throughout Italy will honor Kobe Bryant with a moment of silence in every game.

Italian Basketball Federation's president Giovanni Petrucci told CNN, "We are shocked and saddened by what happened to him and his daughter Gianna and we hold his family close to our hearts in this moment of sorrow."

"It's a small gesture to honor Kobe's memory, but one that is heartfelt and deserved," he added.

Bryant's connection to Italy: Bryant grew up in Italy during the 1980s when his father played for a series of local teams in the country. He spoke fluent Italian, and spent the formative years of his career playing on the city's youth team Cantine Riunite.

10:06 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Helicopter was operating under special flight rules when it crashed

From CNN's Aaron Cooper

The helicopter that crashed yesterday in Calabasas, California, was operating under “Special Visual Flight Rules,” according to an air traffic control audio conversation with the pilot, captured by website LiveATC.net.

What that means: A SVFR, Special Visual Flight Rules, clearance is given to pilots to allow them to fly in weather conditions worse than those allowed for standard Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

The Burbank Airport control tower allowed the helicopter to proceed northeast following the I-5 highway using the SVFR clearance.

“Maintain special VFR at or below 2,500” the pilot confirmed to the controller.

Later in the flight, the pilot apparently asked for “flight following,” a service where controllers are in regular contract with an aircraft.The controller was recorded telling the pilot “2 echo x-ray, you’re still too low level for flight following at this time.”That could mean the helicopter was too low to be seen on Air Traffic Control radar.

Satellite imagery showed the cloud cover at the time of the crash. Below, you can see the flight path in blue:

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (1)

9:28 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

David Beckham on Kobe Bryant: "This was one special athlete, husband, father and friend"

British soccer legend David Beckham shared four photos on Instagram this morning to honor of Kobe Bryant.

In his post, Beckham reflected on Bryant's career. "Sometimes I would only go to games just to watch that clock go down to the last 2:00 minutes knowing that we were about to witness something special," he wrote.

He added: "This was one special athlete, husband, father and friend."

See the full post:

8:51 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Someone wrote "Kobe Bryant Park" at NYC's Bryant Park subway stop

Ryan Seacrest shared a photo of a makeshift New York City subway tribute to Kobe Bryant.

At the 42nd Street-Bryant Park stop, someone posted "Kobe" on a sign, so it reads "Kobe Bryant Park."

"Love on the East Coast," Seacrest tweeted.

10:07 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

California congresswoman: "Los Angeles is mourning the loss of one of our most beloved legends"

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (2)

California Rep. Maxine Waters said Los Angeles is "mourning the loss of one of our most beloved legends and icons" following the death of Kobe Bryant.

"ThoughKobeBryant is no longer with us, our city will never forget what he meant to us, and we will keep his legacy alive forever," she said in a statement.

Here's her full statement:

“I am absolutely devastated and heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss ofKobe Bryant and his beloved daughter Gianna.KobeBryant was a king in Los Angeles and one of the greatest athletes the world has ever known. He thrilled Los Angelenos for 20 seasons at the Staples Center, was an 18-timeNBA All Star, earned five NBA championships, was twice named the MVP of the NBA Finals, and earned the NBA’s MVP award. Fans around the world marveled at his skills on the court season after season. He was truly spectacular to watch. He was our champion, a living legend, and an inspiration to countless fans and aspiring athletes around the world. His loss is felt by millions of grieving fans who are in shock and disbelief by the tragic passing of such a prolific athlete, devoted husband, and loving father.My heart goes out to his wife, Vanessa, surviving children, relatives, teammates, and friends who are in mourning. I also extend my sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims who were onboard the helicopter.
Los Angeles is mourning the loss of one of our most beloved legends and icons. ThoughKobeBryant is no longer with us, our city will never forget what he meant to us, and we will keep his legacy alive forever.”
8:12 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Real Madrid holds minute's silence

Spanish soccer giant Real Madrid held a minute's silence ahead of Monday's training session. The La Liga club posted a picture of the squad with heads bowed and forming a circle on the pitch.

8:02 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

"Kobe just meant the world to me"

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (3)

As the world tries to come to terms withthe crash that claimed the life of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, fans and cities across the United States have been paying tribute to the NBA legend.

"Kobe just meant the world to me and all of us here in LA, growing up just idolizing somebody who dedicated their grind to their craft," one fan told CNN affiliateKABC.

"He always wanted to push to a higher level. You don't see that no more. I just appreciate everything you did Kobe, for real."

Los Angeles City Hall was lit up in Lakers purple and gold Sunday night to honor the player.

The city's airport was adorned in the same colors, with a post on its Twitter account saying, "Kobe was in many ways a symbol of Los Angeles and we join his family, fans and city in mourning all who were lost today."

And outside the Staples Center, where millions watched the icon play, fans gathered despite the additional security measures set up for the Grammy Awards taking place.

"We just didn't know where else to go," a group of fans told CNN affiliateKTLA.

To read more on how America has reacted to Bryant's death, click here.

5:49 p.m. ET, January 27, 2020

Mother and daughter identified as being on board helicopter

By Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton were also passengers aboard the helicopter, according to a Facebook post by Todd Schmidt who worked at Harbor View Elementary School, where Payton once attended.

“While the world mourns the loss of a dynamic athlete and humanitarian, I mourn the loss of two people just as important... their impact was just as meaningful, their loss will be just as keenly felt, and our hearts are just as broken,” Schmidt, the school's former principal, wrote in the Facebook post.

This story has been updated to reflect that Todd Schmidt no longer works at Harbor View Elementary School.

7:32 a.m. ET, January 27, 2020

"An inspiration to the world of sport," says Nadal

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (4)

Rafael Nadal beat Nick Kyrgios in a thrilling fourth-round match at the Australian Open.

After his win, the 19-time grand slam champion spoke of Bryant's death.

"It is terrible news, I'm super sad," he told John McEnroe in an on-court interview.

"He was one of the greatest sportsmen in history and deserves a round of big applause.

"He always wanted to increase his level and was an inspiration to the world of sport and a lot of kids."

Nadal won 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) to set up a quarter final against Dominic Thiem.

Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian (2024)


Kobe Bryant grew up in Italy and spoke fluent Italian? ›

Settled in a new school, Kobe and his older sisters learned to speak fluent Italian within months of moving there — including all the expletives. And, as a black family living in Europe, the Bryants were considered “both curiosities and celebrities,” Sielski writes.

Where did Kobe Bryant learn to speak Italian? ›

When he was six, his father retired from the NBA and moved his family to Rieti in Italy to continue playing professional basketball. After two years, they moved first to Reggio Calabria, then to Pistoia and Reggio Emilia. Kobe became accustomed to his new lifestyle and learned to speak fluent Italian.

Did Kobe Bryant grow up in Italy? ›

Though Kobe was born in Philadelphia, he spent several of his childhood years in Italy, including in the town of Reiti in the Lazio region of Italy, Pistoia in Tuscany, and Reggio Calabria.

How good is Kobe Bryant's Italian? ›

His accent was really good. Kobe Bryant could speak Italian fluently. Was his mother Italian? Kobe's father played basketball in Italy and therefore he lived in Italy for many years and learned the Italian language and traditions.

How did Kobe learn to speak Spanish? ›

There's no doubt the relationship deepened his love for Latinx culture, and helped with his impressive Spanish-speaking skills, too. Kobe admitted that he learned Spanish through ​​“Watching novelas” (yes, you read that correctly) with both his wife and la suegra.

How many languages did Kobe Bryant speak fluently? ›

Kobe Bryant could speak English, Italian and Spanish. Apparently, he spoke Chinese in a press conference. Kobe could speak Italian because he moved to and lived in Italy at age 6.

What was Kobe's life like in Italy? ›

During his time in Italy, Bryant bought into the country's culture and maintained a life long bond with the town of Reggio Emilia, where he moved with his family in the 1990s. The northern Italian town was where Bryant learned to speak fluent Italian and where he would spent almost every day playing basketball.

How long did Kobe Bryant live in Italy? ›

As reported by the New York Post, the late NBA player lived in Italy for seven years before following his dad's footsteps and becoming a basketball legend himself.

Why did Kobe's parents move to Italy? ›

ROME — When Joe "Jellybean" Bryant moved to the Italian town of Rieti in 1984 to play in the country's basketball league, he brought with him his wife, Pam, and their 6-year-old, Kobe.

What did Kobe Bryant do in Italy? ›

Bryant moved to Italy with his family in 1984, when he was 6 years old. He started out playing for a kids' Minibasket team, the Italian name for kid-basketball.

What is Kobe Bryant's favorite Mexican restaurant? ›

The restaurant was one of Bryant's favorites, and he was its most famous customer.

Where did Kobe learn Spanish? ›

Kobe Bryant learned Spanish for LA

Horry noted that Bryant had further motivation to learn Spanish because his wife is a native Spanish speaker as well. He then revealed how he and the Los Angeles Lakers tried to learn Spanish through one of the Lakers' staff members.

How intelligent was Kobe? ›

Therefore, Kobe Bryant's IQ is estimated to be 113 with a 95% confidence interval of approximately 113 ± 18, which translates to a range from about 95 to 131.

Was Kobe Bryant Hispanic? ›

He told Univision in a separate interview that he learned Spanish by watching telenovelas with his family. Even though he was not Latino himself, Bryant's death has been described as "a major loss to the Latino community," and several people have suggested that he was an honorary member of their community.

Was Kobe an African American? ›

But not to be forgotten: Bryant was a black man. From how he played to how he dressed to what he meant to a large population of black basketball fans, Bryant has always been a black man since he began his professional career.

How long did Kobe Bryant live in Italy for? ›

As reported by the New York Post, the late NBA player lived in Italy for seven years before following his dad's footsteps and becoming a basketball legend himself.

When did Kobe move from Italy? ›

The family moved back to the States when Kobe was 13, settling in Lower Merion in Montgomery County, Philadelphia.

Did Kobe's dad play in Italy? ›

Nicknamed "the centre of Italy" for its geographic location amid the Appenine Mountains, Rieti was the first stop on Bryant's seven-year childhood tour of the country. It's where Joe Bryant, Kobe's father, made his Italian basketball debut in 1984 when Kobe was 6.


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