Thousands of people have been writing tributes to basketball legend Kobe Bryant after he died in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday (26 January).
But one of the most emotional has to be fellow NBA star LeBron James, who has just posted a heartfelt message about how the 41-year-old’s tragic death has left him crying.
Bryant was among nine people who were killed when their helicopter crashed in California, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
LeBron wrote on Instagram: “I’m Not Ready but here I go. 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. WTF!!
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!
“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 s*** 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!!”
LeBron added a bunch of photos of him and Bryant over the years as well as a screenshot of a social media post that Kobe had written just before his death.
Less than 24 hours before the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash in southern California broke, the athlete had taken to Instagram and Twitter to toast fellow NBA star LeBron James for overtaking him on the league’s all-time scoring list, taking up third place.
These posts would become the final messages he ever shared on social media.
James surpassed Bryant to become the NBA’s third-highest scorer of all time just yesterday, during the LA Lakers’ 108-91 defeat by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Scoring 29 points, James moved to 33,655 career points – 12 more than Bryant – in turn placing him third behind the NBA’s all-time top scorer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar (38,387) and former Utah Jazz star Karl Malone (36,928).
Shortly after making that post, Bryant uploaded a photo of himself with James on Instagram, writing: “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next.”
James also made it clear that the respect Bryant expressed was very much mutual, referring to him as one of basketball’s all-time greats.
James said: “I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant.”