"He was much more involved than people might imagine," says Wesley King
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No matter the challenge, Kobe Bryant was always all in.

As a Los Angeles Laker, he dominated the NBA. As a dad to four daughters, he embraced his role and was hell-bent on empowering the next generation of females. He even took a seed of an idea and turned it into an Oscar-winning film.

And as a storyteller, his approach was no different, says his creative partner, author Wesley King.

“He was much more involved than people might imagine,” 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.

Kobe Bryant, Wesley King

“There were many weeks where it was two, three, four phone calls a day, and 5,000 text messages. Kobe texted more than anyone in history of existence,” he explains in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

As the pair hashed out their vision for the fantastical and ultimately inspiring YA Wizenard stories, it was not unusual for Bryant to call the Nova Scotia-based writer at any hour of the night.

“He would call about something incredibly obscure, literally about what a guy [in the chapter] was wearing, like one sentence, and would be very laser-focused in on this,” says King, 33, who was set to fly to L.A. to start on their next book project the day after Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

“He would call you at obscene hours because he was so deeply involved and cared so much about the story. It was a very collaborative process.”

Most of all, Bryant hoped to reach and inspire generations to come, says King.

“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’,” he says. “Kobe really believed that.”

King finds solace knowing Bryant’s words will have a lasting impact.

“He wanted to be remembered as a storyteller,” says King. “That legacy is of course going to live on.”


But what he wouldn’t give for one of those early morning calls from his buddy honing in on some obscure tweak to their latest project.

“Now I really wish I’d get a 4 a.m. text message telling me to make a blue wall red [in the story],” says King. “I miss the passion of our conversations and his assured sense of ‘We’re going to change the world’ and ‘There’s nothing that’s going to stop us.’”

He adds, “Kobe was one of the only, if not the only, person in my life when every time we spoke, I felt better.”

The Wizenard Series: Season One, published by Bryant’s multimedia company, Granity Studios, hits shelves March 31.