LeBron James has made his first public statement about the recent death of Kobe Bryant, who passed away on Sunday (Jan. 26) alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a tragic helicopter crash.
“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!” James wrote on Instagram Monday evening (Jan. 27), along with several photos of the two athletes.
The night before Bryant’s death, James passed him for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during a game in Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia. Bryant congratulated James via Twitter, which would become his final tweet.
“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA.,” James’ post continued. “Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”
Bryant and James were close friends and teammates on Team USA during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly flying back from Philadelphia when they were informed about Bryant’s death. The team hasn’t played a game since and their match against the Los Angeles Clippers has been postponed.
“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!” James wrote. “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!!”
During a post-game interview on Saturday (Jan. 25), James spoke about his all-time scoring list achievement, reiterating the respect he had for Bryant’s talent.
“Just to make a long story short, now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from. The first time I ever met him, gave me his shoes on All-Star Weekend. It’s surreal,” he said of Bryant. It doesn’t make no sense, but the universe just puts things in your life… And I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers. The man has two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”
See James’ full post below.