Kobe Bryant & daughter Gianna attended Sunday church service just hours before tragic death

Kobe Bryant with his daughter Gianna at the WNBA All Star Game at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas in July 2019.Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY via Reuters

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna reportedly attended Catholic mass and prayed together at their local church hours before they both passed away in the tragic helicopter crash.

The NBA star and his daughter attended the 7am service at the Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Newport Beach. Shortly after, they boarded the helicopter which crashed into a hillside, killing all nine onboard.

A spokesman for Our Lady Queen of Angels has reported that Kobe was at the morning service on Sunday. The NBA legend reportedly sat at the back of the service, received communion and left early to avoid disturbing fellow parishioners.

The service was held by Father Anthony Vu, a Vietnamese parochial vicar at the church.

Julie Hermes of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, confirmed to The Daily Mail:  "He attended the 7am mass prior to going to the Orange County John Wayne Airport. I imagine he went straight to the airport, because the mass was 7-8am. I'm told generally 7am was his mass.

"He was very discreet. He would come in and stay at the back, and his family too, and then he would usually leave a little earlier prior to the very end of the service. He was very much loved at the church, and he was very devout, very dedicated to his faith."

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Mourners gather outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday following Kobe Bryant's death.Monica Almeida/Reuters

Bishop Timothy Freyer of the Orange Diocese posted on Facebook:  "Our hearts remain heavy after the tragic loss suffered in the wake of yesterday's helicopter crash in Calabasas. We pray and mourn for the friends and family of the victims who have been publicly identified in news reports: Basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.  Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa. Basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan."

He added, "Kobe was a basketball icon who inspired us through his words and actions to set our goals, work hard and achieve our dreams.

"He was a committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith. A longtime Orange County resident and parishioner in our Diocese, Kobe would frequently attend Mass and sit in the back of the church so that his presence would not distract people from focusing on Christ's Presence."

He concluded saying, "Please join me in praying for the victims. May God grant their loved ones peace and bring them comfort during these difficult times."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H Gomez tweeted, "So very sad to hear the news of #KobeBryant's tragic death this morning. I am praying for him and his family. May he rest in peace and may our Blessed Mother Mary bring comfort to his loved ones. #KobeBryantRIP.

"There can be nothing more consoling to those who mourn than to know that a loved one worshipped God just before his death because worshiping God is what heaven is."

Kobe was raised a Catholic by his family and has credited his faith for getting him through bleak times in his life.