NBA legend and Gigi, 13, reportedly attended mass at 7 a.m. and received communion at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach. The service was organized by Father Anthony Vu, Vietnamese parish vicar of the church.
After the church service, the father and daughter, along with seven others, boarded the S-76 Sikorsky helicopter to the Mamba Academy at Thousand Oaks for Gigi basketball training. But the helicopter crashed on a hill near Calabasas.
A ward spokesperson confirmed to DailyMail.com that Kobe and her daughter attended the service early in the morning on Sunday.
A parishioner, who attended a subsequent mass in church, wrote on social media: “During mass, our priest informed us all that Kobe Bryant and his daughter attended mass this morning at Our Lady Queen of Angels. “
Father David Barnes, a Catholic priest in Boston, Massachusetts later confirmed Kobe’s presence.
He tweeted Sunday: “A friend texted me today to tell me that one of his friends (sic) saw #KobeBryant at # Catholic mass this morning. “Mass is the worship of God. Heaven is the worship of God. Go to mass here so you can worship God forever in heaven. “
In a moving article on Facebook, Bishop Timothy Freyer, of the Diocese of Orange, said that Kobe was a “committed Catholic” who “loved his faith.”
He said: “Our hearts remain heavy after the tragic loss suffered as a result of a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
“We pray and cry for the friends and family of the victims who have been publicly identified in the reports: the basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.”
“Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. Basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan. ”
“Kobe was a basketball icon who inspired us with his words and actions to set our goals, work hard and make our dreams come true. He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith. ”
“A longtime resident of Orange County and parishioner in our diocese, Kobe frequently attended mass and sat at the back of the church so that his presence did not distract people from focusing on the presence of the Christ.”
“Please join me in praying for the victims. May God grant peace to their loved ones and give them comfort in these difficult times. “
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H Gomez said of Kobe on Twitter, “I am very sad to hear the news of the tragic death of # KobeBryant this morning.”
“I pray for him and his family. May he rest in peace and may our blessed Mother Marie bring comfort to those close to her. #KobeBryantRIP. “
“There can be nothing more comforting for those who cry than knowing that a loved one worshiped God just before his death, because worshiping God is what heaven is.”
Julie Hermes, spokesperson for Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, said that the deceased basketball legend sat at the back of the service and left early to avoid disturbing other parishioners.
“I imagine he went straight to the airport, because the mass was from 7 to 8 in the morning.”
“He was much loved in church, and was very pious, very devoted to his faith.”
“I went to the 12 noon mass, which was dedicated to him. Since then, each mass has been dedicated to Kobe and the families of all the victims, ”said the church staff member.
Hermes said the Queen of Angels Church also held a rosary service Monday at 7.45 a.m., attended by Kobe fans studying at Irvine University.