The world was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of basketball icon Kobe Bryant, who perished in a fatal helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26, 2020. Bryant, whose career spanned two decades with the LA Lakers, had been the third-highest scorer in the NBA, until he was eclipsed by LeBron James just the day before his death. With typical class and magnanimity, what turned out to be his final Tweet was in praise of the man who had just surpassed him: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
Kobe’s meteoric rise in the NBA came at a very young age, when in 1996, aged just 17, he was drafted by the LA Lakers, for whom he exclusively played. As underage, his parents had to sign the $3.5 million contract. A High School basketball phenom on his suburban Philadelphia team, Kobe quickly came to national attention, becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to bypass college basketball and go professional straight out of school. By his second season he had become a star with the Lakers, eventually leading them to five NBA Championships, including the much-lauded “Threepeat” of 1999-2002. At 34, Kobe became the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points, and was the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. He retired in 2016 after an injury to his Achilles tendon lowered his performance on the court, but remained active as a role model and mentor to young players in a variety of sports, not just basketball.
Born 23 August 1978 at 5 PM EDT in Harrisburg, PA (Rodden Rating C), Kobe’s phenomenal sports success is foreshadowed by a stunning triple conjunction of Mars, Pluto and Venus at 12, 14 and 16 Libra, joined by asteroid Bryan (for Bryant) at 17 Libra and opposed by asteroid Kobe at 18 Aries. The very personal connection of PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) with Mars seamlessly identified Kobe with his chosen sport, creating an almost mononymous identity recognized the world over, as crowds of fans cheered “Ko-be! Ko-be!” Known for his intensity and domination (both Pluto) of the game (Mars), he was just as respected for his good grace and diplomatic demeanor (Venus), while his love (also Venus) for the sport (Mars) showed clearly. A conjunction of the Sun with Saturn at 0 and 3 Virgo gave him focus, staying power, an undeniable mastery and professionalism.
Asteroid Kobe wasn’t named for Kobe Bryant (but rather for the Japanese city of beef fame), but it may as well have been. Discovered on November 2nd, 1997, asteroid Kobe came into our consciousness just days after Kobe Bryant’s second, star-making season began on October 31st, a stunning celestial “coincidence”. It was as if the cosmos was identifying this relative unknown as worthy of heavenly nomination. At 13 Taurus for its discovery, asteroid Kobe conjoined Bryant’s natal Moon at 11 Taurus, and another PNA that can be used to represent him, asteroid Bryantliu at 18 Taurus. A third point, asteroid Bryantsev, appears at 14 Sagittarius, conjoined asteroid Victoria, named for the Roman goddess of victory, at 12 Sag, conferring that winning vibe, with Neptune at 15, a planet which can convey glamour and allure.
The torn Achilles tendon injury which ultimately became career-ending occurred April 12, 2013, when Kobe was just 34. The Sun at 22 Aries conjoins a Mars/Venus pairing, reflective of their birth conjunction, at 24 and 26 Aries; these square transit asteroid Bryan at 21 Cap, binding Bryant directly to the day. Bryan is also just within orb of Pluto, ruling devastation and transformation, at 11 Cap, and ten degrees earlier lies asteroid Bryantliu at 1 Cap, putting Pluto exactly on the Bryan/Bryantliu midpoint, representing the life-changing moment for the basketball All Star. Asteroid Achilles (for the Achilles tendon) at 1 Virgo is at the apex of a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjuncts to asteroids Bryantsev and Brian at 1 and 9 Aquarius, and Uranus, ruler of accidents, at 9 Aries. Achilles also squares asteroid Kobe at 5 Gemini. A second Yod is created with Saturn at its apex, ruling tendons generally as well as restrictions or limitations, at 9 Scorpio, inconjunct Uranus and Kobe. Fate is inescapable. Mercury at 27 Pisces exactly opposes natal Achilles at 27 Virgo, and conjoins natal Nike at 28 Pisces, putting an end to Kobe’s winning streak.
After retirement, Kobe devoted himself to his family, charity work and mentorship. He also developed creative projects, and in 2018, became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Academy Award in any category for his animated film “Dear Basketball”. When the awards were presented on March 4, 2018 asteroid Kobe at 20 Virgo conjoined asteroid Academia (for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which sponsors the Oscars) at 28 Virgo, with Kobe opposing the Sun at 13 Pisces and asteroid Oskar at 23; asteroid Bryan at 28 Gemini exactly squared transit Academia, also squaring Oskar, with natal Nike, for victory, completing a precise T-Square.
In 1999, Kobe met Vanessa Laine, who became his wife of almost twenty years. Asteroid Vanessa-Mae at 8 Virgo conjoins Sun/Saturn and is sesquiquadrate a pairing of asteroids Brian (the last of Kobe’s celestial referents) and Juno, named for the Roman goddess of marriage, at 23 and 25 Capricorn. The couple has four daughters, the eldest of whom, 13-year-old Gianna, was killed with her father in the helicopter crash.
The chart for that accident is cast for 9:47 AM PST on January 26, 2020, when the first 911 calls were received from witnesses to the crash in Calabasas, California. Fog may have been a contributing cause, and the chart shows transit Neptune, which rules fog, at 16 Pisces, exactly conjoined Kobe’s natal asteroid Atropos, named for the Greek Fate who severs the thread of life at death. Neptune is accompanied by asteroid Anubis, named for the Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, and Venus, reflecting the presence of a loved one, at 13 and 14 Pisces. Transit Kobe at 5 Pisces is also within orb of Anubis (though not Neptune) and in a T-Square with natal Rip at 9 Gemini and natal Osiris at 9 Sagittarius. Transit Bryan at 5 Capricorn hugs the 3 Cap MC, putting Kobe powerfully in the moment (angularity) as the focus of all eyes (MC).
Setting the stage of his demise was the Saturn/Pluto conjunction of two weeks prior, at 22 Capricorn, with Saturn and Pluto as the ancient and modern lords of death, which conjoined natal Brian. Saturn/Pluto was also semisquare natal asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, at 9 Sagittarius, and sesquiquadrate natal asteroid Rip (which functions as a death indicator in the form of the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription) at 9 Gemini.
“Things falling” is a theme of the passing chart; first, Kobe was experiencing a Damocles Return to the degree when his helicopter crashed. Damocles represents the doom hanging unseen overhead, ready to descend at any moment. The Moon at 26 Aquarius added emphasis to the Return, and his death made an especially strong emotional impact (Moon) on the American people, whose Moon is at 27 Aquarius in the USA chart. Moon/Damocles is squaring transit asteroid Bryantsev at 21 Scorpio, forms a T-Square with transit asteroids Bryantliu and Brian at 21 and 23 Scorpio, and a loose Grand Cross with Lachesis at 16 Leo, named for the Greek Fate who determines the span of life.
Most strikingly, Damocles exactly squares natal asteroid Icarus at 24 Scorpio (conjoined by transit Bryantsev). Icarus is commonly prominent in charts of air disasters, and repeats the “falling” theme, based in the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and melted his waxen wings, then plummeted to his death in the sea. This becomes a T-Square with natal Karma at 24 Taurus (conjoined by transit Bryantliu and Brian), injecting a fated quality into the tragedy. And another loose Grand Cross is formed with natal asteroid Nemesis at 18 Leo (conjoined by transit Lachesis), a point representing ruin or downfall, in this case, quite literally. Natal Mercury is also here at 21 Leo, putting Kobe back in the news.
Transit Icarus is also active; at 19 Capricorn it is conjoined by asteroid Requiem (named for the funeral mass for the dead) at 15 Cap, Rip at 18 Cap, Pluto at 23 Cap, and Saturn at 24. Pluto is exactly conjoined natal Brian, while Icarus/Rip is semisquare Kobe, indicating the death via a fall from a great height. Pluto is also exactly opposed transit Gianni at 23 Cancer, a masculine PNA version of his daughter Gianna who died with him. These T-Square Atropos at 18 Aries, exactly conjunct natal Kobe, which is also squared transit Icarus and forms a Grand Cross with the natal Mars/Pluto/Venus/Bryan stellium in Libra.
The death of an athlete in general is described by transit Mars at 15 Sagittarius conjoined transit Osiris at 17 Sag, which overlays the natal Bryantsev/Neptune conjunction, and squares transit Anubis/Neptune, itself atop natal Atropos.
Ironically, at the time of their deaths, Kobe and his daughter were traveling to a basketball practice for her team, which he sometimes coached. Gianna aspired to continue the family sports tradition (Kobe’s father Joe was also an NBA player), perhaps with a career in the WNBA. Thus basketball can be seen as the inadvertent cause of Kobe’s death, just as it was the motive force in his life.