Newsletter: Today: The loss of a Lakers legend

A Melrose Avenue memorial for Kobe Bryant.
(Britny Mejia)

Los Angeles is mourning the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash. His 13-year-old daughter and seven other people were also on board.


The Loss of a Lakers Legend

“Brutal,” one fan pronounced it. “Unbelievable,” said another. Los Angeles publicly and emotionally mourned, from Trader Joe’s to Staples Center, in the hours after Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in the hills above Calabasas.

Nine people were on the copter when it crashed amid dense fog and burst into flames, officials said. (One Times staff writer watched the fireball erupt.) Among them was his daughter Gianna, 13, a basketball star in the making who had always wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. Experts say the investigation into the crash will probably focus on the fog and potential mechanical problems.

Lakers players were shocked, Clippers devastated. Fans wrote in to The Times to share their favorite memories — from getting Bryant’s autograph at a McDonald’s in New York to getting his order at an In-n-Out near LAX. And columnist Bill Plaschke asked what so many others were thinking: “How can Mamba be dead? Mambas don’t die.

More Times columnists remember Kobe Bryant


— “In a two-decade career played entirely in this city, he scaled the greatest of athletic heights and was tarnished by the worst of personal scandals. He was beloved, reviled and, in the end, revered,Dylan Hernández writes. “Whatever his faults, he was Los Angeles sports. He still is.”

— “I didn’t know Bryant. Few of us did,” Steve Lopez writes. “But as a father, a husband, a businessman, a person, he showed repeatedly that he was more than his darkest moments and worst instincts, that he grew, that he understood that his greatness gave him a platform to appeal to our better selves.”

Arash Markazi writes about the special bond Bryant shared with Gianna, especially in retirement. “He didn’t worry how he would be remembered, he just wanted to be there for his daughter and watch her play the game they loved.”

— Back in 2016, we mapped every shot Kobe ever took, all 30,699 of them, in this interactive graphic.

Billie Eilish’s Grammys Sweep

A surreal scene unfolded Sunday outside Staples Center, where celebrities gathered for the Grammy Awards mourned alongside devastated fans who flocked to Bryant’s home court. Inside, despite the very long shadow his death cast over them, the Grammys mingled ecstasy with the agony.

Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old L.A. wunderkind, became only the second person in Grammy history to sweep the ceremony’s four most prestigious award categories — record, album, song and new artist. Her hit single “Bad Guy” and introspective album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” won all six awards for which they were nominated and made her the youngest solo album of the year winner.

Beyond the Eilish sweep, fellow L.A. native Nipsey Hussle’s legacy was celebrated, Demi Lovato nailed a powerful comeback performance, and Michelle Obama won the spoken-word award for the audio edition of her memoir “Becoming.” Find the full list of winners here, and see how they compare to our critics’ predictions.

Coronavirus Comes to California

The coronavirus that has spread to more than 2,000 people in more than a dozen countries has officially landed in Southern California. Health officials have confirmed the new strain’s first two cases in Los Angeles and Orange counties, brought by travelers who came from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. But they say there’s no evidence it’s spread beyond those two people, both hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department is making plans to evacuate personnel stationed in Wuhan to San Francisco. It isn’t just the virus’ spread or the fact that several dozen people have died from it — many of them older with other medical problems — that has authorities on such high alert. It’s the fact that this particular virus has never been seen before.

Trump Readies Impeachment Defense

President Trump’s defense lawyers said their opening foray this weekend in the impeachment trial was only a “sneak preview” to today’s main event — but that was before revelations that Trump told John Bolton he wouldn’t lift a hold on military aid to Ukraine until it investigated his political rivals, according to the president’s former national security advisor.

That exchange, described in a draft of Bolton’s book and first reported by the New York Times, severely undercuts the defense that Trump’s counsel sought to showcase this week, and bolsters Democrats’ calls for witnesses in the trial.

A partial roster of Trump’s legal team began its defense of him Saturday, arguing he “did nothing wrong” when he pushed Ukraine to open investigations into the Bidens as he withheld a White House meeting and security assistance. But it reserved its more incendiary attacks for today, when it planned to try to shift scrutiny onto former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.


“American Dirt” was supposed to be a publishing triumph. Instead it’s drawn charges of cultural appropriation, stereotyping, insensitivity and racism. What went wrong?

— No other presidential contenders have such long, symbiotic relationships with the cities where they live as Sen. Bernie Sanders does with Burlington, Vt. Burlington shaped Sanders as Sanders shaped Burlington, so much so that it’s hard to consider one without the other.

Australia’s fires are burning through a key part of its economy: tourism.

— Those lucky red envelopes for the Lunar New Year yield much more than cash.


In this photo from 2016, Kobe Bryant kisses his daughter Gianna at center court after a game against the Clippers at Staples Center. On Sunday, both father and daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. For more memories of Bryant, take a look back through our archives at his magic moments with the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant kisses his daughter Gianna at center court following a game against the Clippers at the Staples Center in 2016.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)


— When it comes to hiring more women firefighters, the Los Angeles Fire Department has fallen far short of the mayor’s goals.

— L.A. City Councilman David Ryu ran as a City Hall reformer. His rivals say he’s fallen short on homelessness.

— As more homeless people camp out on railroad tracks, train-related deaths are rising. Malibu, meanwhile, wants to ban overnight parking on Pacific Coast Highway. Will the state allow it?

— An alarming number of humpback whales have been getting entangled in fishing gear. Blame a food chain snarled by climate change.

— Former California Gov. Jerry Brown wants to know who is trying to sell his father’s memorabilia related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Sotheby’s says the seller wants to remain anonymous.

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— Former Weinstein Co. production assistant Mimi Haleyi is expected to tell jurors in Harvey Weinstein’s trial that he sexually assaulted her his New York apartment in 2006.

— The true subject of the documentary “On the Record” isn’t Russell Simmons, writes film critic Justin Chang. It’s the unacknowledged work of many women who worked alongside him, and more broadly it’s misogyny in the entertainment business and truth-telling in the #MeToo era.

— Sundance also saw the premiere of a new Go-Go’s documentary focused on the band’s pre-fame days in L.A.’s 1970s punk scene. Find our full Sundance coverage here.


Kobe Bryant is being mourned around the world, but perhaps nowhere more than in the small town of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, where he spent a pivotal portion of his childhood.

Immigration judges are quitting or retiring early because of Trump, some saying they found it impossible to guarantee migrants their due process rights.

— Racing against freezing temperatures, rescue teams in Turkey pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings Sunday, two days after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country’s east. At least 39 people have died, authorities say.

— Seventy-five years after he was freed from Auschwitz, this 94-year-old Beverly Hills man can’t stop going back.


Netflix needs an edge in the streaming wars. Its solution: first-time filmmakers.

— If you’re tempted to raid a retirement fund to get a lower mortgage rate to buy a new home, there’s probably a better alternative, personal finance columnist Liz Weston writes.


— The Dodgers’ Blake Treinen is defending whistleblower Mike Fiers, his former teammmate who broke the news that the Houston Astros stole signs: “I respect him for what he said.”

— How the 49ers’ Raheem Mostert went from undrafted to unstoppable.


— Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for a delta tunnel to divert water from the Sacramento River beneath fragile wetlands could work — but only as part of a more comprehensive water effort, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— This new coronavirus was preventable, but we never seem to learn the lessons of former outbreaks and move to shut down live animal markets, author Wendy Orent writes.


— History professor Marcia Chatelain, author of “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America,” explains the relationship between the struggle for civil rights and the rise of the fast-food industry. (NPR)

— Sanctions? Iran has been increasingly using cryptocurrencies to get around them. (Foreign Policy)

— The legacy of Mitsuaki Tanabe, a Japanese sculptor who was fascinated by wild rice, can be found across an Australian floodplain. (Atlas Obsura)


Once upon a time, Rainbo Records manufactured the sound of America. Ravers, rappers, garage rockers, kazoo orchestras — anyone who wanted, quite literally, a permanent record of their work — contracted the Canoga Park company to make their 45s, flexi discs, albums, 8-track tapes, cassettes and CDs. The company made ready-to-play campaign postcards with candidates’ voices, prerecorded boot-camp commands for new recruits and manufactured the “Disneyland Talking Map,” a five-record, fold-out cardboard poster sold at the park’s grand opening. But now that vinyl’s niche has become too small, the company is closing up, closing out 80 years of pop culture history.

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