Tiger Woods Still Coping with Friend Kobe Bryant’s Death: ‘Part of Me Thinks That It’s Not Real’
The legendary golfer learned of Kobe Bryant's death after completing his final round at Torrey Pines that morning
“It’s hard to put into words what transpired and the fact that it’s a reality,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday according to AFP, just ahead of his showing at the Genesis Invitational later this week. “Part of me thinks that it’s not real.”
When news of the fatal helicopter crash that killed Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter, and seven others broke in the early morning hours of Jan. 26, Woods was at Torrey Pines golf course in San Diego for a tournament.
His caddie, Joe LaCava, decided it was best not to inform the golfer of the tragedy until after he completed his round, and cameras caught Woods’ emotional reaction when LaCava broke the news.
“I don’t really know what I said post-round,” Woods said of the moment, according to Yahoo News. “I was in shock just like everyone else, trying to put it in words going forward.”
“The reality of the situation is Kobe and Gigi are not here, but it’s hard to accept,” the 44-year-old golfer added.
Since the accident, fans and celebrities have flocked to social media to pay their respects to Bryant, Gianna and the other victims, which include John Altobelli, 56, Sarah Chester, 46, Payton Chester, 13, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, has also opened up about the grief she has endured in the weeks since her husband and daughter’s deaths.
“My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone,” the 37-year-old mother of four wrote on Instagram on Feb. 10. “I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong.”
Woods echoed these feelings while talking with reporters on Tuesday.
“People who are close him and all the families,” he said. “It’s just hard to accept that reality.”
Los Angeles will hold a memorial service at Staples Center on Monday, Feb. 24 for Bryant and Gianna. The event will also honor the seven other victims of the helicopter crash.
The date holds special significance for the Bryant family: Gianna wore jersey No. 2 at the Mamba Sports Academy, and Bryant wore No. 24 in the latter half of his career.