GMA, Today, CBS This Morning Lead Respective Broadcasts With the Kobe Bryant Story

By A.J. Katz 

Broadcast networks broke into sports programming yesterday afternoon to report on the stunning death of Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna,  a legendary California college baseball coach, along with six others traveling in Bryant’s helicopter when it crashed into the hills by Calabasas, Calif. All nine passengers reportedly died in the crash, including the pilot.

The broadcast nets (and of course, the cablers) continued to report on the story this morning.

ABC’s Good Morning America was, frankly, the morning show best equipped to report on this morning’s news. The program is in the unique position of having a former sports anchor and former athlete (Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan) as co-anchors. Both were friendly with and had interviewed Bryant in the past. The ABC morning show was also able to tap the resources of corporate sibling ESPN to bolster its coverage.


The crash took up the first 17 minutes of this morning’s GMA broadcast. ABC News correspondent T.J. Holmes reported live from Calabasas, and longtime ESPN reporter Chris Connelly reported live from the Staples Center, where the Lakers play and where ironically The Grammys took place hours earlier. Derek Fisher, Bryant’s teammate on the Lakers for many years, and NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen also appeared on the program to provide perspective.

While CBS was broadcasting the Grammys, ABC News produced and presented a prime-time special yesterday evening focused on the life and legacy of Bryant. Roberts and Strahan co-hosted the live hour-long special broadcast with ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi. The program aired in the 10 p.m. ET hour, both on ABC and ESPN.

Over on NBC, the Today show opened with news on Bryant’s crash for the first 15 minutes. A mural of tributes was shown, before playing audio of Boys II Men and Alicia Keys’ Grammy performance.

NBC’s Craig Melvin reported live from the Staples Center, with memorials from fans sitting behind him.

At one point, Melvin was joined by NBA on TNT studio host Kenny Smith.

NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico also joined Today live, which covered the story for the first 15 minutes of this morning’s broadcast.

Tirico joined Kate Snow for the NBC News Special Reports yesterday afternoon, and he also appeared on MSNBC programming yesterday on multiple occasions.

Bryant’s death also led CBS This Morning, with Gayle KingAnthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil sharing their thoughts before highlighting tributes from fans, artists at the Grammy’s, former Pres. Obama and Pres. Trump. CBS’ Jonathan Vigliotti, who was CBS’ on-site reporter yesterday, reported for the program from Calabasas early this morning.

Like GMA, CBS This Morning (or in this case, CTM: Saturday) has a former sports newser on staff, Dana Jacobson, and she reported for the program this morning from Los Angeles:

Former New York Times sportswriter (now writer-at-large for ESPN’s The Undefeated) William Rhoden appeared in studio to speak about Bryant’s legacy.

#BeforeWeGo: @GayleKing, @AnthonyMasonCBS and @TonyDokoupil reflect on the life and legacy of #KobeBryant:

CBS News also managed to get an exclusive with Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson: