LeBron James Paid Tribute To Kobe Bryant Hours Before He Died
LeBron James paid tribute to Kobe Bryant just hours before he died in a helicopter crash.
Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were travelling in the helicopter with seven other people when it crashed yesterday, January 26. The LA county sheriff said there were no survivors.
Less than 12 hours earlier, LeBron passed Bryant to become the third-highest scorer in NBA history, a fact that made him emotional when talking about the impact the basketball great had on his own career.
You can watch LeBron’s tribute in full below:
On Saturday night, LeBron scored 29 points during the Lakers’ defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers to take him to 33,655 career points – 12 more than Bryant.
After the game, the 35-year-old, who considered Bryant one of his heroes, spoke about how he helped him on his own journey in the NBA, saying he grew up ‘through the ranks when Kobe came into the leagues’.
LeBron told ESPN:
As I started playing more ball and went into high school, the things he was doing on the floor I admired and wanted to be a part of. I went to camp and he came to speak to the kids, and I was just listening. I tried to soak everything up that I could.
I can remember one thing that he said. He said that, ‘If you want to be one of the greats you have to put the work in. There is no substitution to work.’ I was a 15-year-old kid at that camp. In 2001, I was playing in New Jersey and the All-Star team was playing in Philadelphia.
He said Bryant then gave him a pair of his shoes that he ended up wearing the following night. ‘I was a 15 and he was a 14, but I wore them anyway,’ he said.
He has zero flaws offensively. I admired that he was in a place where defenses were at bay and couldn’t guard him at all. He was immortal offensively. It was a dream come true to line up alongside him after admiring him for so many years.
To make a long story short, I’m now in a Lakers uniform, in Philly where he is from, and where I first met him. It is unreal. It makes no sense. The universe puts things in your life and when you are living the right way things happen organically.
I am happy just being in any conversation about Kobe Bean Bryant. He is one of the all-time greatest ever basketball players to play one of the greatest Lakers – the man had two jerseys hanging up at Staples Centre.
It’s believed Kobe and Gianna were on their way to one of the teenager’s basketball practices when the crash occurred, along with Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa Altobelli, and wife Keri Altobelli.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people were on the helicopter, a pilot and eight passengers. He would not confirm who had died until all the next of kin had been notified.
The helicopter departed from John Wayne Airport just after 9am on Sunday, with the crash happening shortly before 10am in Calabasas.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianca and Capri.
Our thoughts are with the Bryant family and the loved ones of all those who died at this difficult time.
Rest in peace.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.