LeBron James Spoke with Kobe Bryant Hours Before His Tragic Death: 'I'll Continue Your Legacy'
Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas
James, 35, shared a heartfelt Instagram post on Monday in tribute of Bryant, who died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas at age 41.
“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!” James began his caption on social media.
“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!!“ the father of three revealed.
“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 s— 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,“ James concluded.
Bryant was the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points — but that all changed during James’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.
During the game, James paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend with special Nike shoes when he surpassed Bryant’s record. Bryant thus became the forth-leading scorer in the NBA at the time of his death.
On Saturday evening, in what would be his final social media post, Bryant congratulated James on his latest milestone in what would be his final Twitter and Instagram posts. “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next,” the retired star shared on Instagram.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ?? #33644,” Bryant tweeted.
Then, on Sunday shortly after the crash, James was seen wiping away his tears with some tissues and weeping, according to gut-wrenching footage shared by WKYC.
Bryant, who sat courtside during a handful of Lakers games this season, praised James for coming to Los Angeles and giving the franchise a chance to potentially win its 17th championship.
“When LeBron came to Los Angeles, he is now a Laker, he is part of our brotherhood, part of our fraternity, and we should embrace him that way,” Bryant, 41, recently told the Los Angeles Times. “You got to celebrate… appreciate what he is as an athlete while he is here. Appreciate this guy, celebrate what he’s done because it’s truly remarkable.”
Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, died on Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. There were a total of nine victims.
Spokespersons for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and LAPD did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. Their daughter Gianna, 13, was also killed in the plane crash along with her father.