The NBA player’s pastor said he went to pray at church just hours before his life was cut short.
“He just came and went quietly and prayed and gave his life to the Lord. And yesterday he had to give it back,” Father Steve Sallot said.
Kobe Bryant visited Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, California early Sunday morning, ahead of the 7 a.m. mass, according to Father Sallot.
Father Sallot went on to share that he happened to come in the same door as Bryant was going out. Calling it the “backhand of grace,” Father Shallot shook hands with the NBA legend and noticed that he had blessed himself with a little holy water on his forehead.
Bryant and his family were regulars at the Newport Beach church. Though a quiet man about his faith, he was “certainly a man of faith,” Father Sallot told local news.
Hours after visiting the church, Bryant’s helicopter crashed as it was on its way to transporting Bryant and his daughter to a basketball game in Thousand Oaks. The former NBA player was expected to coach and his daughter was expected to play.
After investigation, it was determined that the helicopter was at 2,300 feet in the air when it lost communication with air traffic control. The pilot said he was climbing to a higher altitude to avoid a cloud layer, but when asked what he planned to do, there was no reply.
Six other passengers also perished in the crash.