LeBron James posted an emotional message on Instagram about the late Kobe Bryant on Monday evening (local time). They are seen as two of the best basketball players of all time.
James and Bryant won with the American team Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 and played together in various All Star games. Bryant played his entire career for the LA Lakers, where he ended his career in 2016. Two years later, James went to play at the Los Angeles club.
"I am not ready, but there we go," James begins his emotional message on Instagram. "Man, I'm sitting here and trying to write something. But every time I want to start I cry again when I think of you, your daughter Gigi and the friendship we had."
On Saturday, James still passed his friend on the all-time top scorers list of the NBA. James now occupies third place and Bryant congratulated him on Twitter.
"I could not suspect that I would never hear your voice again"
It would turn out to be his last tweet, because one day later Bryant was among the nine deadly victims of a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.
"I heard your voice on Sunday before we left Philadelphia to fly back to Los Angeles," writes James. "I could never have guessed in a million years that it would be the last time."
"My heart is broken and I'm devastated, brother. How I love you, big brother. My heart is with your wife Vanessa and the children."
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James asks for Bryant's strength
James is seen in Los Angeles as the successor to Bryant. "I promise to spread your legacy. You mean so much to Lakers fans. It's my responsibility to leave this shit behind and keep going."
"Please give me strength from heaven and watch over me," James concludes. "There is so much I would like to say, but at the moment I just can't do it. See you, brother!"
Wednesday's city derby between LA Lakers and LA Clippers has been postponed due to Bryant's death. James' team will play for the first time on Friday since Bryant's death, when a home game against Portland Trail Blazers is scheduled.