Michael Jordan: ‘When Kobe Bryant Died, a Piece of Me Died’

Rather than mourn the passing of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, a service was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles today to celebrate the life of the baller and his daughter Gianna. And one of the speakers was basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who was an opponent on the court and a big brother figure to Bryant off.

Fighting back tears, the Chicago Bulls great offered both funny stories and touching moments when he embraced his big brother role. He poked fun at his crying during the speech and a potential new crying meme that could come from it (“I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t want to see that for the next three or four years”). He also offered insight into how he feels about Bryant’s passing (“When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died”).

One of the more impactful stories Jordan told involved a 2 a.m. text message exchange with Bryant. During their messaging, Bryant requested advice to help his daughter improve her game.

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“I remember maybe a couple months ago he sends me a text and he said, ‘I’m trying to teach my daughter some moves, and I don’t know what I was thinking or what I was working on but what were you thinking about as you were growing up trying to work on your moves?’ I said, ‘What age?’ He said, ’12.’ I said, ‘[At] 12, I was trying to play baseball,'” Jordan said, getting a laugh from everyone inside the Staples Center.

Although equal parts somber and humorous, Jordan proclaimed through tears that he will always have fond memories of their relationship.

“I promise you from this day forward I will live with the memories of knowing that I had a little brother that I tried to help in every way I could,” Jordan said.

Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26 that also took the lives of seven others.

Kobe Bryant Michael Jordan
Kobe Bryant (L) and Michael Jordan battling on the court in February 1998.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian

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