• Ara Zobayan was known for a clean safety record
  • He was trained to fly under poor weather conditions
  • Zobayan was also a pilot for other famous personalities such as Kawhi Leonard and Kylie Jenner

While the world is still trying to recover from shock from the death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna, seven other victims also lost their lives in what proved to be one of the saddest days in sports history.

One of them is Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter that is less known than the future basketball hall of fame member but is also doing his job on the pilot’s seat to fly his passengers to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, CA. This is not the first time that the 50-year old pilot flew a high-profiled personality.

Sources reveal that Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard also flew with the same pilot that Kobe had when the accident occurred. Louis Keene of the weekly Clippers’ Newsletter Unstatable tweeted that the last season’s Finals MVP confirmed that he was indeed sharing the same pilot as the “Black Mamba”.

“Flown with him a lot. Great guy, super nice, he was one of their best pilots. That’s a guy who you ask for. It’s just surreal still for me...he’s a good dude,” Kawhi said per the tweet.

Chris Baynes of Yahoo! Sports also reported yesterday that Kobe and Kawhi were close friends and were told that they share the same pilot, though the claims haven’t been confirmed just yet at that time. In his post, Zobayan “was an experienced flier and a certified flight instructor with more than 8,000 hours of flight time.”

An article from Los Angeles Times said that Darren Kemp, one his flight students at Group 3, worked as Kobe’s private pilot. “(Kobe Bryant) doesn’t let anyone else fly him around but Ara,” Kemp said. The insider also reported that Kylie Jenner was one of the personalities that became Zobayan’s passengers. "I still can't believe this. That was the helicopter I would fly on from time to time with that pilot, Ara," said the 22-year old model.

“You don’t know what’s real yet. I can’t really speak on it. It’s a lot of thoughts in my head,” Kawhi replied when asked if he’s still going to travel with helicopters.

Zobayan, who is of Armenian descent, was a licensed instrument pilot who was trained to fly under poor weather conditions and got his first private license with a helicopter in 2001 per The Daily Beast.

Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers dribbles during a 111-91 Denver Nuggets preseason win at Staples Center on October 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Harry How/Getty Images