Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was texting with Kobe Bryant just moments before the helicopter crash that claimed Bryant’s life.
While speaking at Bryant’s memorial on Monday, Pelinka revealed that Bryant’s final text was about trying to help another person.
‘CARELESS AND NEGLIGENT’: Vanessa Bryant files lawsuit against helicopter owner
The 50-year-old Pelinka said he was in church when Bryant texted. While Pelinka would usually ignore those texts, he felt compelled to respond to this one, and was glad he did.
Bryant texted Pelinka asking about a baseball agent in California.
Bryant explained that he was trying to set up a young girl with a baseball internship. Pelinka said he knew the agent and would help out.
A few moments later, Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in the crash.
Pelinka revealed that the girl Bryant was trying to help is the surviving daughter of John Altobelli, the Orange Coast College baseball coach who also died in the crash.
Pelinka finished the story by stating, “Kobe’s last human act was heroic. He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl’s future. Hasn’t Kobe done that for all of us.”
Poignant tribute to Kobe and Gianna
Bryant's wife offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their daughter at a memorial service for the pair, who were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.
Speaking at times through tears, Vanessa Bryant praised her husband's devotion as she addressed thousands of fans gathered at Staples Centre to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.
“God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other,” Vanessa Bryant said. “He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.”
The service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career.
The ceremony began with Beyonce performing her songs XO and Halo with dozens dozens of backup musicians. Alicia Keys performed Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata later in the program.
After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family's life with Gianna and her three siblings and then eulogised her husband. They had been together since 1999.
“He was the most amazing husband,” she said. “Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. ... He was my everything.”
The mourners included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan.
Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended.
Vanessa Bryant was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe Bryant was a passionate advocate for women's basketball, and Gigi Bryant was a promising young player.
“If I represented the present of the women's game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,” said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant.
The concourse was a sea of people dressed in the team colours of purple and yellow and others in black. On the scoreboard, the Bryant family's life flashed by in pictures.
The service began just hours after Vanessa Bryant sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog last month. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions.
The service was a chance for a grieving city and Bryant's worldwide fans to reflect on his impact on his sport and the world while enjoying music and retrospectives on Bryant's on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016.
Vendors sold flowers, Lakers scarves and commemorative newspapers and jerseys. Buses drove up and down Figueroa Street with their signs lit up with "RIP KOBE."
Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, who moved from the Forum to Staples Center when it opened in 1999.
The five-time NBA champion's two retired jersey numbers - 8 and 24 - hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant's death.
Bryant remained the most popular athlete in Los Angeles into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Centre to commiserate after the crash.
A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on February 7.