Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other people, were killed Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was only 41 years old.
The group of nine people boarded the helicopter at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, departing at 9:06 a.m. PST headed towards a practice session at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California when visibility became an issue due to heavy fog. The helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all on board instantly and starting a small bush fire.
Along with Bryant and his daughter, other casualties of the crash included Christina Mauser, Bryant’s girl’s team basketball coach, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton and Ara Zobayan, the helicopter’s pilot.
First reported by TMZ, with the details later confirmed by other news outlets, the horrific accident takes a global basketball icon, renowned brand builder, successful venture capitalist and investor, philanthropist, filmmaker and media personality away from his wife Vanessa, his three surviving daughters and millions of NBA fans all over the world.
The news of Bryant’s tragic passing immediately sent shock waves around the sporting world, with athletes from all over the planet taking time out to honor Bryant and his legacy.
NBA superstar LeBron James, a current LA Laker and admirer of Bryant, exited the team airplane visibly shaken after hearing the news, later giving a touching statement to the media.
“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” said James. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling, and it’s dope.
“Kobe’s a legend. That’s for damn sure.”
James had just passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA top scorers list the night before in Philadelphia, the city Bryant played in high school before entering the league. Bryant sat in the front row with his daughter Gianna, a talented basketball player in her own right, and his last tweet was a congratulation to King James for his accomplishment.
Soccer superstars like Leonel Messi, David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo all posted tributes to Bryant to their hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, fans flooded the outside of the Staples Center with Lakers merchandise and flowers to pay tribute and teams around the league took 8 and 24-second violations to start the game in honor of Bryant’s two numbers, 8 and 24.
Perhaps the most tragic part of Bryant’s passing is the clear plan he had for the second chapter of his career after basketball. In the short three and a half years since his retirement from the NBA, Bryant became an advocate for women’s basketball, won an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” the best-selling author of “The Mamba Mentality” and a dedicated father and family man all at the same time.
Rest in peace, Kobe. Gone but never forgotten.
Skateboarder JS Lapierre Rides to the Top with CBD
JS Lapierre talks to Cannabis Aficionado about his skateboarding history, his future and the role CBD plays in his health and fitness regimen.
To the masses, the concept of skateboarding invokes images of urban streets, concrete, metal fixtures and graffiti art. In stark contrast, skateboarder JS Lapierre began his venture in the simplistic farmland setting of a small Canadian village. No handrails and no jumps, just hard work, passion, and creativity.
JS Lapierre has made a commitment to focusing on mental and physical health as he continues to pursue his journey in skateboarding. He makes conscious decisions every day to better himself, which is something that can arguably be seen as counterintuitive to the traditional skateboarding lifestyle. Now, as a skateboarder riding for Zero Skateboards, he continues to add knowledge and skills to his repertoire, a lot of which is motivated by his new passion for CBD.
We spoke exclusively to JS Lapierre about his skateboarding history, future and the role CBD plays in his health and fitness regimen.
Cannabis Aficionado: What was your first memory of skateboarding?
JS Lapierre: The first time that skateboarding was introduced to me was when one of my friends got a mini ramp in his backyard. I think I used his older brother’s skateboard and I was instantly obsessed. That friend and I keep in touch. I don’t know if his older brother ever found out I was using his board, but I know his parents were proud when they found out I was doing so well skateboarding.
What is it about skateboarding that is so appealing to you?
When I was a kid I did it because I loved it so much. There was no reason, I just thought it was really fun. Now, as I grow older and learn more about spirituality I realize that extreme sports give a moment of clarity. Nothing else is going on. There is no voice in my head, no ego. It is a pure form of meditation for me. Everything it has given me has been amazing. I’ve been crazy places and met all kinds of people. I’m very grateful.
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When did you make the decision to pursue skateboarding as a career?
I think deep down in my heart I knew that I wanted to pursue skateboarding as a goal. I believe there was a decisive moment when I finished high school. My parents wanted me to keep going to school, so I applied to go to college.
I was supposed to start the next month, but there was a big contest in Montreal. I decided to go out there and try. I got first place and won like eight thousand dollars. That was the perfect opportunity to set aside regular life and pursue skateboarding. My mom was super supportive and I had a little money to live on, which I think made her more ok with it. It has been such a blessing.
You grew up in a small town on a farm. Skateboarding is often associated with urban lifestyle. How do you combine those two worlds?
I’ve been really lucky. When I was young my parents were really supportive. We lived in a small village that only had about 400 people. I loved it so much that I wanted to skate every day. I would skate in front of my house, practicing ground tricks. They would bring me out to the nearest skatepark whenever they could, which was 15 minutes away. In the winter there was an indoor skate park 45 minutes away by Montreal. I was really lucky they did that for me.
How much time do you spend skating a week?
I think I skate probably once every two days, depending on a lot of things. You can’t really film at skate parks. You have to find handrails and sets of stairs. It takes some time to drive around trying to find skate spots and then try not to get kicked out. Most of the time I skate 5-10 hours during the week. That’s one of the reasons it’s good to have other things around that you like to do. I read, stretch a lot and do yoga.
Finding a great place to skate and film can be difficult. Skateboarders are often stereotyped as youngsters with no regard for others’ space or property. In reality, most have no intention of disturbing the peace.
I’ve been really lucky. Some people go to jail for trespassing or ridiculous fines. When I was young, I got a $600 fine for skating. I believe I was under 18 so the fine was significantly reduced. We are just trying to have fun and skate. Some people don’t see it that way.
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How do you know when it is time to stop skating for the day?
That is what’s cool; you are never going to know everything in skateboarding. There are so many tricks that you are never going to master more than yourself. I skate as much as I can without being too sore the next day. I listen to my body.
Some skateboarders prefer to skate alone, while others like to travel in groups. I like to have friends around, but if we are in a city it can be kind of annoying to have a big group. But I like a good communal session. Talk some shit and do some skating.
If you could ride with anyone, who would it be?
Laird Hamilton. He’s actually a surfer, not a skateboarder but the reasons for that is that he’s got so many insights about how to maintain a healthy body through cold exposure and breathing exercises. He’s got these underwater exercises that a bunch of people come to his house to try out and it looks so epic.
How has your decision to adopt a meat-free lifestyle affected your body?
It started off as an ethical decision. I saw videos of what goes on in slaughterhouses and I wanted to do something about that. If I’m consuming those products I’m supporting the industry. So, I started as a vegetarian. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was really a healthy option. There is a lot of misinformation about how you lose important nutrients and protein. As I got older, I began to read about the nutrition side of things. I also watched a lot of documentaries, which prompted me to become a vegan.
I try to be as healthy as possible. Since skateboarding is my career, I have some extra time on my hands to learn and use my knowledge efficiently. I want to be able to skate as long as possible. I want to be able to use all the tools I can outside of skateboarding to do what I love the most.
A vegan lifestyle takes a lot of dedication. How do you make it work?
Honestly, I used to eat for taste. I love eating food still, but I try to center my diet on the healthiest things. I cook a lot. I don’t eat out much. I make a lot of smoothies with superfoods so I am full of energy throughout the day. I love Indian food. That’s probably my favorite.
My parents are starting to realize more about healthy eating. Whenever I go home I try and tell them what I know without being too annoying. I can see an improvement and I want to see my parents stay healthy and energetic.
What do you do to stay mentally focused?
I do yoga and try to meditate daily, which is a difficult thing to do. I also do Wim Hoff breathing exercises and cold showers, which help to restore balance and maintain energy. It’s amazing.
I’ve been super into health and self-improvement for a few years now and I was always jealous of my friends who would be able to benefit from the cannabis plant. I wished I would be able to smoke a joint after a long day of skating so I could recuperate faster and just relax. I personally always had a hard time getting high though, I would be super paranoid and it ended up just being a turn off so I haven’t smoked weed in years now.
What made you decide to start incorporating CBD oil into your healthy routine?
I think it was from seeing other friends posting about it and I kept seeing CBD oil in some of the health stores and hearing about it. I knew cannabis had a lot of benefits, but I don’t smoke. I get too much in my head. I knew there were good things in cannabis but I didn’t want to smoke. Then I looked up the benefits of CBD. I think it is the perfect tool to skate and recuperate. And mentally it makes me feel really calm.
I take Receptra CBD oil every day, in the morning and at night. In the long run, the tincture makes a difference in overall health. The topical is good for short-term pain.
For me, being sore is the issue rather than bruising. You jump the same set 40-50 times and you are going to be sore. Receptra helps with that. It is super effective and really easy just to use the liquid every day as part of my routine.
7 Pro MMA Fighters Who Openly Support Cannabis
It’s no secret that people both enjoy and benefit from using cannabis. Elite athletes are no different. Former pro athletes like Al Harrington and Ricky Williams who were once penalized for their cannabis use, are now starting their own cannabis companies and touting the numerous medical benefits of using cannabis for recovery and wellness.
In a recent article from Bleacher Report, a panel of eight retired former NBA and NFL players talked openly about the frequency of use among athletes.
However, the plant remains banned by sports like the NFL, NBA, MLB and the UFC.
The UFC does allow for its fighters to use CBD, however, making it one of the first major sports to allow their athletes to do so. Mixed martial arts (MMA) seems to be paving the way to mainstreaming cannabis use among elite athletes.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at seven MMA athletes who openly use cannabis and dominate at what they do.
Matt Riddle got off to a promising start in the UFC, winning his first two fighters before testing positive for cannabis twice and being released from the sport.
The athlete has been open about his cannabis use as a medical marijuana patient for physical aches and pains, along with personality issues.
He’s now a professional wrestler and his doing great at it, winning the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s “Rookie of the Year” and “Most Improved Wrestler of the Year” for 2016.
A lanky, lightweight fighter with a high work rate and a ton of personality, Sean “Suga” O’Malley has not been shy about his cannabis use.
Famously smoking with stoner legend Snoop Dogg after a big UFC victory, O’Malley doubles down on his stoner appeal by doing interviews in a robe adorned in pot leaves.
He even released his own strain last year, Suga Show OG, which is a cross between Lemonhead and OG 92. He’s the real deal when it comes to both fighting and weed.
Undeniably one of the best pound for pound UFC fighters of all time, Jon Jones has been very open and public with his substance struggles.
While cocaine and PED’s have all done their part in derailing the career of one of the most promising fight games talents ever, Jones has been clear while he quit other substances he’ll still smoke cannabis and have a drink from time to time.
Probably the most low-key entry on this list, former UFC Welterweight championship contender Jake Shields is a major cannabis advocate.
The Californian fighter spoke at the 2016 Cannathlere convention, “It is a big part of the training for a lot of people. I definitely don’t smoke every day, but sometimes it is a good way to go in there and smoke a little bit and be a little more creative — like sometimes when you are in a big training camp before a competition, it really makes training fun again.”
The Diaz Brothers
The undisputed cannabis kings of the fight game, the Diaz brothers are as open as they could possibly be about their cannabis use.
Nick Diaz talked publically about how he would pass drug tests despite smoking frequently and was even banned for five years when he was caught.
His brother Nate stepped the game up even more, actually smoking a CBD oil vape during a post-fight press conference.
The two have become big names in the cannabis industry, reportedly sustaining their income away from the fight game by launching Game Up, a CBD-infused, plant-based nutrition company.
One of the most dominant female MMA fighters of all time and current WWE superstar, Ronda Rousey has been clear about her position on cannabis over the years.
After Nick Diaz was suspended for his cannabis use, Rousey expressed her support for him and cannabis use as a whole during multiple interviews over the years.
“It’s so not right for [Nick Diaz] to be suspended five years for marijuana. I’m against testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug. And it has nothing to do with competition. It’s only tested for political reasons.” She said during one interview.
While Rousey has talked extensively about using cannabis when she was younger in her book My Fight/Your Fight, many have speculated that she’s still using since she’s spent so much time with the Diaz brothers. She’s even posted some photos where the eyes were… glassy, to say the least.
Whatever the case, we’re chalking this one up as Rousey being supportive of cannabis use.
Bas Rutten has an incredible story of the highest highs and the lowest lows you can achieve in the fight game. Due to the injuries he accrued over his long fighting career, Rutten developed a crippling addiction to painkillers.
After trying to kick his addiction by using drugs like Suboxone or even trying to go cold turkey, Rutten turned to CBD oil for pain relief and was able to kick his addiction.
“I was skeptical, but I had to try something else,” Rutten said of CBD oil. “I gave Receptra a shot and it changed my life. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Rutten even said the CBD use makes his training and pain management easier, his daughter use it to get rid of zits and he recommends it for anything trying to reduce muscle soreness and better control their pain.
NFL Players Will No Longer Be Suspended for Cannabis Use
In the midst of a global pandemic, canceled seasons for the NBA, NHL, international soccer leagues, the PGA and a handful of other sporting events, races and leagues, the NFL Player’s Association and the owners were hard at work negotiating a brand new collective bargaining agreement.
After weeks of negotiations, a deal was struck, the votes were cast and the final details of the deal were set in stone. The owners got one more regular-season game and the players got something arguable even more important; reduced penalties for failed cannabis tests.
That’s right, the famously stuffy and conservative National Football League has loosened their stringent rules when it comes to players enjoying cannabis. Following in the footsteps of Major League Baseball, NFL players can no longer be suspended for cannabis in positive tests. Gone are the days when a player testing positive could mean lost game checks, multi-game suspensions and even season-long bans for multiple-time offenders.
On top of that, the threshold for failing a test has now been bumped up to 150 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, way up from the previous standard of 35 nanograms.
If a player still manages to fail a test despite the newly heightened standards, their test will be reviewed by a board of medical professionals who will then determine if a player needs further treatment for potential drug abuse.
The testing window for players is also set to be shortened from four months to two weeks, meaning fewer players than before will get tested than in previous years.
On top of the new testing standards and smaller window, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement also states that “a neutral decision-maker” will be the one to officially make the disciplinary decisions that decreases commissioner Roger Goodell’s disciplinary power.
Working this perk into the new CBA, along with a slightly larger portion of overall revenue for a league worth nearly $3 billion, is a huge deal for pro athletes in a sport whose careers average only about three years.
NFL Players and Cannabis: A Long Forbidden Love Story
While this new CBA certainly opens the door for a new age of cannabis-loving NFL athletes, the love affair between the NFL’s players and cannabis is a long, storied and sensible one.
Former NFL running back Ricky Williams has long been a supporter and proponent of cannabis, even going as far as starting his own cannabis business in 2018. Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett went on record in 2018 to say he thinks “about 89 percent” of the league’s players use cannabis. And, of course, who can forget Laremy Tunsil and his astounding draft day slide due to being hacked and tweeting a video of him hitting a gas-mask style bong?
Simply put, the new reduced risks around being suspended for cannabis use is a long-time coming for one of the most violent and physically taxing pro sports leagues in the world. We’ve already seen high-profile early retirements over the last few years like Andrew Luck and Rob Gronkowski, the latter of the two immediately signing on to advocate for CBD use for pain and recovery.
This new CBA is a massive step in the right direction for the future of players, allowing some of the richest athletes in the country access to a substance that nine of the 32 teams can legally use recreationally.
Keeping NFL players on the field AND removing their risk of being suspended for cannabis? Now that’s a brand new type of Super Bowl.