Kobe Bryant passed away on Sunday, Jan. 26 as his helicopter crashed. His daughter, 13-year-old Gianna, also died as they were on their way to Mamba Academy for ball practice.   

At the news of their deaths, fans around the world were hugely shocked and celebrities also expressed sadness over Kobe’s untimely passing. Understandably, the most affected were his family and friends like Lebron James. 

Kobe and Lebron are NBA stars who belong to the same LA Lakers team however they were not able to play together as a team because it was only in 2018 that the latter signed up with the team. At that time, the 41-year-old basketball star has already retired from the league. 

Their only chance to play as teammates was when the two of them were selected for the US basketball team at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012. Despite not being able to play together for basketball seasons, they are close and have a deep connection. 

James always shared how Bryant has inspired him to be a great player and he looks up to him. In fact, when he surpassed Kobe’s records, he celebrated his accomplishment with praises for his friend and idol. 

“Seeing him (Kobe) from afar and then being able to be in practices with him, and me watching and learning -  it’s just too much,” CBS8 quoted James as saying just a day before Kobe died. “The story is just too much. It doesn’t make sense.”   

Thus, when he first heard about Kobe’s death, Lebron and the other players of LA Lakers were seen shedding tears as they landed at the airport after a game in Philadelphia. Lebron was wiping away tears as he walked through the tarmac. 

The emotional moment when the players also hugged each other was caught on video and fans were heartbroken too.  It was learned that the team learned about Kobe’s chopper crash during their flight back after a game with Philadelphia 76ers. Tania Ganguli, a Los Angeles Times reporter further revealed that the Lakers team was “devastated and in shock” after hearing the news. 

Meanwhile, it took more than a day for Lebron James to comment on Kobe’s death. On Jan. 27,  he posted a long message on Instagram and part of it reads: “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. I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! Man, I love you big bro.”