LeBron James has posted a stirring tribute to Kobe Bryant on Instagram, a day after the NBA legend and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash northwest of Los Angeles.
James, who passed Bryant to become the NBA’s third-highest scorer of all-time just the day before the crash, said he’d spoken to his Lakers predecessor on the morning of the tragedy.
TRIBUTES FLOW: Sporting world and Hollywood rocked by Kobe's death
The picture accompanying the post is from November last year, when Bryant sat courtside to watch the Lakers take on the Atlanta Hawks.
“I’m Not Ready but here I go,” James wrote.
“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!
“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!!
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother.”
The game between the Lakers and rival Los Angeles Clippers, which was originally scheduled to tip on Tuesday afternoon (AEST), was postponed by the NBA after an agreement with both teams.
James continued in his post, vowing to continue Bryant’s legacy with the Lakers.
“I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation,” he wrote.
“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!!”
LeBron James in tears after death of Kobe Bryant
The world is mourning the loss of an NBA great and this was seen when James exited the Los Angeles team plane following the news of Bryant and Gianna’s death.
James was clearly emotional as he appeared to wipe away tears and hug those in mourning.
The 35-year-old James passed Lakers legend Bryant to become the NBA's all-time third highest scorer during yesterday’s match, finishing it on 33,655 points and now trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).
And it was Bryant who paid respect to James as the ‘The King’ climbed the rankings.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers was fighting back tears during a pre-game conference when talking about the death of the LA Lakers legend.
Rivers was asked about Bryant’s death ahead of the Clippers’ match against the Orlando Magic and was fighting back tears in the press conference.
“I don’t know,” he started.
“I just don’t have a lot to say. The news is just devastating to everybody that knew him.”