The world is grieving the loss of Kobe Bryant, who died in a nine-fatality helicopter crash on Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif., alongside 13-year-old daughter Gigi. He leaves behind is wife, Vanessa, and their three younger children, Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
During a two-decade NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one league MVP. The 18-time All-Star is widely considered one of the best basketball players of all time. He also was a longtime Nike athlete, with a beloved signature sneaker line, called the Kobe. The NBA icon was instrumental in the rise of low-top basketball shoes, which was in part inspired by his love of soccer.
Bryant was also known for his “Mamba Mentality,” the idea that you should always try to be the best version of yourself, and that hard work will one day breed results. The superstar athlete inspired a generation, but among those who know him best, he’s remembered as a family man, devoted to wife Vanessa and their four kids. In his post-NBA life, Bryant reportedly turned down opportunities in order to spend more time with his children, staying involved with hoops through his role as coach to his girls’ teams.
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Below, FN takes a look back at his some of the star’s final moments and how it demonstrates his exemplary commitment to his sport, his friends and, most of all, his family.
His last interview
Just 10 days before his death, Bryant did his last sit-down interview with USA Today reporter Mark Medina. Bryant spoke fondly of his four post-playing years, saying: “I got a chance to spend so much time with my family and largely control my own schedule.” In his second act, Medina said, the star was focused on his production company, which had plans for a fourth sports fantasy book to debut on March 31 and a third season of his Punies podcast in the works.
His last tweet
In what would be Bryant’s final tweet, he congratulated LeBron James for overtaking him as third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644,” Bryant wrote. Similarly, the baller’s final Instagram post congratulated James, reading: “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next. 💪🏾.”
His last phone call with LeBron James
Bryant’s final telephone conversation with James was on Sunday morning, hours before Bryant’s last helicopter ride. “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!!” James captioned an emotional Instagram post dedicated to his longtime friend.
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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 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❤️🙏🏾
His last game
In 2016, Bryant closed out his 20 years in the NBA with a game for the books, putting up an impressive 60 points in a come-from-behind win over the Utah Jazz. He made 22 of 50 shots on that night, scoring 17 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, propelling the Lakers to a win over the Jazz.
His last sneaker release
Bryant’s final signature sneaker, the Kobe 5 Proto Chaos, dropped earlier in January. Since it was released in 2009, the Kobe 5 was a fan favorite, loved for its standout colorways and futuristic look.
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