The NBA and entire sports community has been in a state of shock and grieving since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and eight others tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, is among those who perished, and he is survived by wife Vanessa, and their daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. Bryant’s death is being mourned by fans at L.A. Live and the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, among other locations.
Bryant’s impact and legacy has been felt on the Dodgers roster, with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner praising his career and philanthropic efforts this week. Bryant was also connected to the Dodgers through a congratulatory video he sent to Cody Bellinger last weekend.
Shortly after receiving his National League MVP Award in New York, Bellinger saw the video Bryant recorded, but he understandably has been unable to watch it since then, via AM 570 L.A. Sports
“I remember receiving after I got the award. I was in a car to dinner and I actually saw it and was like, ‘Dang, this is crazy. He shouted me out, he said I’ll see you soon.’ Literally the next day I’m flying here and I got the news and I was like, ‘Damn this was 15 hours ago’ that I received a message from him. I haven’t watched it since because it feels weird to watch that. … I felt sick on the plane.”
Bellinger joined the chorus to speak fondly of the late five-time champion and admitted to still having difficulty with accepting the new reality:
“He was an icon. Literally, everywhere in the whole world. It’s still hard to believe. You wake up and I thought about it and it’s like, this is hard to believe.”
Bellinger and Bryant previously were intertwined in May 2018, when the Lakers legend sent the Dodgers’ All-Star an autographed pair of the Nike Zoom Kobe 1 Protro ‘Final Seconds.’ Bryant attended Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, announcing the Dodgers’ lineup and ITFDB.
As Los Angeles and the city continues to mourn Bryant, the Lakers are set to play their first game since the tragedy on Friday. They will honor Bryant during a pregame ceremony that presumably will include a tribute video.
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