Two Orange County icons thrill Disneyland guests last June.
Two Orange County icons thrill Disneyland guests last June.
Photo by Andrew Youssef

Kobe Bryant, at Home and on the Heli-Pad

J. R. Moehringer is a former Times Orange County sportswriter and the ghostwriter of Andre Agassi's controversial autobiography Open. Moehringer profiles Kobe Bryant in the March issue of GQ. Actually, it's more like a profile of Bryant's assorted broken and stressed body parts, which help introduce different candid moments from the Lakers shooting guard's life, including some here in Orange County.
The piece opens with Bryant soaking up the stares of pilots and passengers at John Wayne Airport, which he travels to on practice and game days from his home on Newport Coast's Pelican Ridge.

At SNA, "one of the five or six most famous people on earth" catches a Los Angeles-bound helicopter so that he can hop over snarled freeway traffic. As Moehringer writes, the flights are not just another perk in a multimillion-dollar NBA superstar's contract, however.

He takes a private helicopter from Orange County, where he lives with his wife and two children, to every home game. It's a nice dash of glitz, a touch of showbiz that goes well with the Hollywood sign in the hazy distance. But sexy as it might seem, Bryant says the helicopter is just another tool for maintaining his body. It's no different than his weights or his whirlpool tubs or his custom-made Nikes. Given his broken finger, his fragile knees, his sore back and achy feet, not to mention his chronic agita, Bryant can't sit in a car for two hours. The helicopter, therefore, ensures that he gets to Staples Center feeling fresh, that his body is warm and loose and fluid as mercury when he steps onto the court.

If you make $23 million a year with your body, taking a helicopter to work is actually quite practical.

The piece also delves into the very private Bryant's quiet charitable work, something his reps urge him to speak more about.

You can be with Bryant for hours and hours and he won't tell you about the cancer-stricken boy he took to Disneyland. They spent most of the day together, and when the boy died soon after, his mother phoned to say that the last time she saw her son smile was that magic afternoon with his idol.

Your learn from Moehringer's write up that, at home, Bryant: barely sleeps, spends those waking hours in the middle of the night watching television or a movie ("He's mad for Tarantino"), or goofing round on a computer, although he apparently does not Google himself, asking the writer:

"Who Googles themselves?"

Lots of people.

"Eeew, I'd be a little uncomfortable Googling myself. People sit there--and Google themselves? That's kind of weird."

Bryant usually drifts back asleep around 4 a.m. and then is up two hours later to make breakfast for his daughters. Apparently, this is not in his housekeeper's job description.

As for his wife, the pride of Huntington Beach's Marina High Vanessa Laine Bryant, she and her man enjoy playing simple games of Cranium, which can turn into "guerrilla warfare" given Black Mamba's competitive streak.

Moehringer can't believe that one.

Cranium? The kids' board game? With Sensosketches and Cloodles?

He purses his lips, nods his head slowly: No joke.


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