Wesley King says Kobe Bryant’s passion for kids extended far beyond his own brood

By Elizabeth Leonard
March 25, 2020 11:54 AM
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Right off the bat, it was clear to author Wesley King that Kobe Bryant was a devoted family man who embraced his role as #girldad to four daughters.

“His family was first and foremost … I knew that within five minutes of meeting him,” says King, Bryant’s friend and collaborator on the 2019 bestselling young-adult novel Training Camp, as well as Season One, the second book in their sports fantasy Wizenard series, due out March 31.

“His daughters were always brought up [and] he was forever calling me while waiting in line to pick them up.”

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Floored by his the NBA star’s “boundless energy”, King, 33, says Bryant’s passion for kids extended far beyond his own brood.

“He was really focused on changing kids’ lives and empowering the next generation of young athletes, especially females,” he says.

One of many ways he sought such connection was through creating fantastical and ultimately inspiring YA stories with King, his writing partner since 2016. “It almost sounds cliché, but he’d say, ‘If one kid picks this book up and finds the faith in himself to persevere, we did our job … We’re doing this for that one kid,’ ” says King.

“Kobe really believed that.”

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Kobe Bryant meets with students at Andrew Hamilton School in Philadelphia
Matt Rourke/AP/Shutterstock

Since Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 — a tragic accident that took the life of his 13-year-old budding basketball star daughter, Gigi, and seven others — King can conjure a scenario where the NBA legend is somehow still sharing his gifts.

“I [envision] him being the ‘hype man’ in the sky organizing competitive scrimmages and there with Gigi and her teammates,” he says.

“I think regardless of the faith aspect, it’s easy to see him up there as this inspiration.”

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King is grateful Bryant left such a vibrant legacy that can inspire the generations to come.

“His words, which he was able to thankfully leave in innumerable interviews and also in his books, films and stories, and his legacy are going to live on,” says King.

“He would take great solace that his mission is still being accomplished.”

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