Stephen Colbert Honors Kobe Bryant, Recalls Losing Family Members in 1974 Plane Crash (Video)

Colbert says he has a “strange connestion” with the NBA star’s death, “one I wouldn’t wish on anyone”

Stephen Colbert opened up about a “strange connection” between his own life and the tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and eight others who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

The connection is “one I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” Colbert said Tuesday on “The Late Show.”

“I lost my father and two of my brothers when I was a boy to a plane crash that was also in heavy fog,” Colbert said. “And one of the terrible things about that shock and the heartbreaking, unreality nightmare quality of someone huge in your life who just disappears, the center of your love disappearing in that moment, is not knowing what happened.”

The host, who was joined by bandleader Jon Batiste, went on to explain that unlike planes, helicopters don’t have black box recorders, making it difficult to identify the cause of a crash beyond investigating the site.

“In the crash that killed my father and my brothers, which was flight 212, Eastern Airlines, Sept. 11, 1974, we had a flight recorder. And because investigators knew what happened in that cock pit, new rules were created to save other people’s lives. It’s called the Sterile Cockpit rule. So flight safety could be improved, and I think it’s crazy that helicopters don’t have black box recorders,” he added. “We don’t know how to improve the flying of the pilots so this won’t happened again in the future.”

Next, Colbert gave a call to action.

“Perhaps someone could take action to make sure that there are some ways to record what is happening in these helicopters so that it doesn’t happen as often,” he said. “But to do nothing after helicopters go down like this and we lose greats like this, or we lose any person whose family is now in agony and in ignorance of what happened to their loved one, I think is unconscionable.”

“These people are now in misery. Why compound their misery with mystery of what happened to their loved ones?” he added. “It’s better to know than not to know.”

Watch the clip above.