Chicago Cubs: Kobe Bryant demise recalls Cub Ken Hubbs death

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs fans grieve with Los Angeles fans over the loss of superstar Kobe Bryant. The tragic death reminds us, especially this month, of Cubs Ken Hubbs.

On January 26, people across the nation turned on the news to learn that former Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant, and several others to include his daughter were killed in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California. While Bryant had retired from professional basketball for several years, he was actively involved in coaching and several business ventures.

One of Bryant’s business ventures included a sports brand company called, ‘Art of Sport.’ Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez worked with Bryant on one of the company’s advertisements.  Baez was featured as one of the young up and coming talents in baseball.

Just as Bryant is hailed a superstar around the world, so it was 56 years ago this month on February 15, 1964, when Chicago Cubs second baseman, Ken Hubbs, died in an air accident as well.  Hubbs and a friend were trying to return to his home in California from Utah when the plane Hubbs was piloting at the time crashed in a snowstorm, killing Hubbs and his friend.

There are many eerie similarities between the life and death of Hubbs and Bryant.

  • Both were superstars; Bryant from his basketball career and Hubbs from winning the 1962 NL Rookie of the Year award with the Chicago Cubs and becoming the first rookie in baseball to win a Golden Glove.
  • Both died in air accidents. Bryant died in a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crash while Hubbs died in a red and white Cessna 172 plane crash in a snowstorm.
  • Both deaths were caused in the air under supposedly low visibility.
  • Both died among friends in their respective accidents. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends, and the pilot all killed in the helicopter accident.  Hubbs and close friend Denny Doyle both died in Hubbs Cessna.
  • Both Hubbs and Bryant were from California at the time of their deaths.
  • Both Bryant and Hubbs were basketball players; Hubbs played in high school and was even recruited to play college basketball.  The last sport Hubbs played was a game of basketball the night before his death.

Fifty-six years ago, the news that 22-year-old Ken Hubbs had died in a plane crash was as devastating for fans of the Chicago Cubs around the nation, as the recent news of Bryant’s unexpected demise. The difference, of course, was that Bryant had already had a great, full career while Hubbs was beginning to show the world how great he could be. The biggest question left to time is if Hubbs had lived, would the Chicago Cubs had won in 1969?