In an emotional Instagram statement on Monday, January 27, the Los Angeles Lakers’ number 23 voiced his sadness and promised to continue Kobe’s legacy.
“I’m not ready but here I go,” he wrote. “Man, I sitting here trying to write something for this post, but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”
RadarOnline.com readers know Kobe, 41, and teen daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash that killed seven others on Sunday, January 26, in Calabasas, California. They were on their way to Kobe’s Mamba Academy for a practice game around 9:40 a.m. when the flying conditions turned dangerous due to the weather, causing the collision.
In his last Instagram post, Kobe congratulated LeBron, 35, for surpassing him as third place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
Kobe scored 33,643 points during his 20-year NBA career. He was also known as the player who missed the most shots, since he took so many chances. LeBron has now scored 33,644 points.
According to reports, Kobe called LeBron after the Lakers played in Philadelphia on Saturday night to congratulate him for his achievement. He also tweeted: “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644.”
“WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! ?????,” LeBron continued on Instagram. “Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation?? and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️?? #Gigi4Life❤️??”
According to ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast, parents, fans and players who gathered at the Mamba Academy on Sunday to wait for Kobe, kneeled in mourning upon hearing the news of his and Gianna’s untimely deaths. After that, various NBA teams, players, celebrities and fans honored the basketball legend, both on the court, and on social media.
Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young broke down in tears before his team’s game against the Washington Wizards. The New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets waited out the 24-second clock in honor of Kobe in the opening two sequences of their game at Madison Square Garden. The Toronto Raptors, the San Antonio Spurs, and various others teams did the same. Other players and teams shared their own tributes.
LeBron was seen crying on video after deplaning in Los Angeles following a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. In the sad clip, LeBron is seen wiping his eyes with a tissue and hugging fellow teammates on the airport tarmac.
Kobe is survived by wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.