He spoke out on Wednesday about the team handling the devastating loss of Bryant after he, his daughter and seven other people lost their lives in the fatal accident.
Vogel said he and the team, where Bryant played for his entire 20-year NBA career, were “offering condolences to Vanessa Bryant and the entire Bryant family on the loss of Kobe and Gianna. We are all deeply saddened by this tragedy,” he said about the January 26 wreck.
He also offered condolences to the other families, saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Bryant’s shocking death was “extremely emotional,” Vogel said.
“It has been something that has touched my family, being the father of daughters. It is very emotional. It brings us together. As well as the Lakers family.”
Vogel said he related to Bryant over his love for his daughters.
“You connect with that. You feel it. It is what your life is about,” Vogel said.
“Him being a father to daughters and being involved in their sports was the most enjoyable thing in his life, from my observations,” he said about Bryant’s devotion to his four children before his terrible death.
“I love being the Lakers coach, but it doesn’t come close to comparing to my family time,” Vogel said, likening himself to his former player. “It’s very relatable.”
When asked what Bryant’s impact on the team was, Vogel said, “he was the most feared man in the league for an entire generation. The influence is profound league wide, basketball community wide, worldwide, Lakers family wide. His influence will be felt forever.”
Vogel confessed he “wasn’t ready” to reveal what he would say to Bryant nor what his favorite memory of him was.
He said telling the Lakers players about Bryant’s death on the team’s private plane as the news broke about the accident was a “daunting task, grabbing each guy one on one and letting them know.”
“I just wanted to make sure everyone knew.”
The team practiced together on Tuesday Vogel explained.
“I wanted our guys to come in mentally free. To get a sweat, touch the ball, be around each other.
Then we had a lunch. We all spent time together. Grieved together.”
Radar readers know Bryant was killed when his helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas on January 26.
Scroll through the gallery for updates about Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.
Coach Vogel said the team was united after Bryant’s shocking death. “It has strengthened what we have felt all year about our current group. We’ve become a family in a very short time. This team in particular has. This has just brought us together.
The helicopter accident that killed Bryant, his daughter and seven other people was a “high energy impact crash,” the National Transportation Safety Board announced on January 28.
“We know that the helicopter was at 2300 feet when it lost communications,” NTSB board member Jennifer Homendy said from the press conference in Calabasas, Calif. crash location on January 28. “The descent rate was over 2000 feet a minute. We know this was a high energy impact crash,” she said.
Kobe was a dedicated sports dad to his daughter, Gianna, coaching her basketball team and even filed to trademark the named “Mambacita,” an offshoot of his nickname “Black Mamaba.”
The NBA coach spoke about honoring Bryant during the remainder of the season. “We want to represent what Kobe was about, more than anything. We’ve always wanted to make him proud. That’s not going to be any different here.”
Vanessa Bryant changed her Instagram profile picture to photo of Kobe and Gianna hugging at the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto on January 29.