NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA) – Less than three hours before he was killed in Sunday’s helicopter wreck which also claimed the lives of eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant visited his church in Newport Beach.
A little before 7 a.m. Sunday, Kobe stopped at the Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Father Steve Sallot told CBS2 Monday.
“I saw him yesterday (Sunday) before the 7 a.m. mass,” Sallot said. “We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then he moved on, and obviously, he was going to the airport yesterday morning.”
Sallot said Kobe and the rest of the Bryant family were frequent parishioners at Queen of Angels. The family have lived in Newport Beach for years.
“He was quite a man of faith,” Sallot said.
On this particular morning, Kobe did not stay for the 7 a.m. service.
“We shook hands, and I saw that he had blessed himself because there was a little holy water on his forehead,” Sallot said. “So I knew that he’d gone into the chapel to pray and came out and blessed himself. And then we spoke for a minute, shook hands, and then off he went.”
Their brief conversation centered around Kobe’s desire to go through confirmation, Sallot disclosed.
“He was baptized Catholic as a child, I believe, when his parents were in Italy,” Sallot said.
The church is planning to hold a special service honoring Kobe in the near future.
Kobe, his daughter Gianna and seven others died when their helicopter went down in the Calabasas hills at 9:45 a.m. Sunday. They were headed to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was set to coach Gianna in a tournament game. Two of her teammates, also aged 13, and their parents were among those killed in the wreck.