- Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that killed all five people on board.
- LeBron James, who just recently broke Bryant’s NBA record for all-time points scored, reflected on his relationship with Bryant on Sunday afternoon in a video shared by ESPN.
- James, 35, said from childhood he was inspired by Bryant and his worth ethic, which meant it felt like a „dream come true“ when they got to play together on the 2008 Redeem Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
- Bryant once gave James a pair of his shoes, and though they were too small, James wore them the following night during a game, James said in the four-minute video.
- Read more on Insider’s homepage.
In a four-minute video shared on ESPN’s „SportsCenter“ on Sunday, just hours before Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash in California, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James shared some of his most memorable moments with the basketball legend who he said inspired him throughout his career.
The day before Bryant’s death, James passed Bryant’s record, becoming the third-highest-scoring player in NBA history, according to CNN.
In the video, James shared how Bryant had inspired him since he was a child, and how Bryant’s words stuck with him.
„I went to ABCD [basketball] camp, and he came and talked to all the kids that were there. I happened to be one of the kids that was there, and I was just listening,“ James said. „I was just trying to soak up everything that I could and I remember one thing that he said. He was like,‘ if you want to try to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats you have to put the work in. There’s no substitution for work.’“
James also recalled an early interaction with Bryant. The five-time NBA champion gave the rising star a too-small pair of his shoes at a hotel in Philadelphia.
„He gave me a pair of shoes that I ended up wearing the following night,“ James told ESPN. „It was the red, white, and blue Kobes,“ James said. „I was a 15 and he was a 14, and I wore them anyway, and I sat and just talked to him for a bit. He gave me the shoes and I rocked them in the game.“
James told ESPN he continued to admire the Los Angeles Lakers legend, even after he was drafted into the NBA.
„As I got drafted, I still just admired him, seeing what he was able to accomplish, winning championships, being early in his career where he learned from the misses he had against the series against Utah, and he used that as motivation and got better and better and better,“ the 35-year old Los Angeles Laker said. „I continued to admire him throughout my high school rank. Then, as competitors, just seeing the work ethic that he put into the game. He had zero flaws offensively. Zero.“
In 2008, James said it was a „dream come true“ when he got to play alongside Bryant on the 2008 USA Olympic Basketball Team, known as the „Redeem Team,“ in Beijing, China.
„We take it down to 2008 when we become the Redeem Team, and it was a dream come true for me to be able to line up alongside him,“ James said. „I just admired him for so many years, and seeing him from afar, and then being able to be in practices with him, and me watching and learning. It’s just too much. The story is just too much, it doesn’t make sense. To make a long story short, and now I’m here in the Lakers uniform in Philadelphia, where he’s from, where one of the first time I’d ever met him he gave me his shoes.“
On being compared to Kobe, James said it felt „surreal.“
„It’s surreal,“ James said. „It doesn’t make no sense, but the universe just puts things in your life, and when you live the right way or you’ve just given everything to whatever you’re doing, things happen organically, and it’s not supposed to make sense, but it just happens. And I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe.“
Watch the full video of James talking about Bryant’s impact here:
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