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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 5, 2023

Kobe Bryant’s death wasn’t a setup to keep him from testifying in a lawsuit

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  • The National Transportation Safety Board investigated the helicopter crash that resulted in Kobe Bryant’s death and concluded the pilot became disoriented flying among clouds and crashed.

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California. 

Their deaths inspired several conspiracy theories that suggested foul play. A recent Instagram post leans into some people’s suspicions that the crash wasn’t accidental, asking if his death was "possibly a setup to stop him from testifying." 

"Was Kobe a sacrifice," reads text above a video. A man in the video asks, "Have you heard the conspiracy that big pharma took out Kobe Bryant?"

"He was in this legal battle with this company that was using the Black Mamba name to sell these energy supplements," the person says. (Bryant gave himself the nickname "Black Mamba.")

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

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After investigating, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the deadly crash was an accident likely caused by "the pilot’s decision to continue flight under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the pilot’s spatial disorientation and loss of control."

In other words, the board said, the pilot lost visual contact with the ground after flying into low clouds and became disoriented, and was flying at "an excessive airspeed for the weather." All of that culminated in the crash, the board said. 

The 72-page aircraft accident report, issued more than a year after the crash, does not mention a lawsuit, Black Mamba, or the pharmaceutical company. In fact, that matter appears to have been resolved weeks before Bryant got into the helicopter.

In 2017, Bryant filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office objecting to Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals’ use of the name "Black Mamba" in connection with dietary and nutritional supplements. Bryant argued in legal filings that people would presume he was associated with the supplement when he wasn’t. 

On Jan. 2, 2020, Bryant filed a motion to suspend proceedings for 30 days because the parties were "actively engaged in negotiations of this matter." The case was terminated that same day, records show.

We rate claims that Bryant was killed to stop him from testifying in a lawsuit False.


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Kobe Bryant’s death wasn’t a setup to keep him from testifying in a lawsuit

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