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Kobe Bryant’s pilot, Ara Zaboyan, was also Kawhi Leonard’s pilot

Kobe-Bryant-Kawhi-Leonard

Ara Zobayan was the pilot of the Sikorsky S-76B that crashed on Sunday killing nine people including NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Zobayan was also Los Angeles Clippers’ superstar Kawhi Leonard’s pilot.

Leonard was born in Southern California and grew up watching Kobe Bryant. He had an extremely close relationship with Bryant as they often trained together during offseasons.  This past summer, Leonard was invited to the Mamba Sports Invitational, a basketball camp that was hosted by Bryant. In Leonard’s offensive game, you can see glimpses of Bryant, most notably his ability to create mid-range jumpers.

After Sunday’s win over the Orlando Magic,  Leonard spoke about his relationship with Bryant:

“Knowing him personally, I know he’d want me to come out here and try to ball and still just be great. Words can’t explain his impact he had on this floor. We’re a team from L.A. So we know L.A.’s history with him, and it’s just sad,” Kawhi Leonard said of Kobe Bryant.

When Leonard signed with the Clippers this past summer, he most likely contacted Bryant about the transportation options around Los Angeles. Bryant most likely recommended him to Pilot Zobayan, who was Bryant’s go-to pilot since 2016.

Pilot Zobayan was an experienced pilot who had flown celebrities like Kylie Jenner. He was also a certified instructor with more than 8,000 hours of flight. He earned his commercial license in 2007, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s pilot certification database.