Many around the world will remember Kobe Bryant as one of the most gifted players in the history of the NBA to ever touch the court.
The five-time NBA champion's impact on the basketball community was immeasurable. In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, rap icon LL Cool J spoke to Kobe’s legacy and reach in the Los Angeles community.
“He was a larger than life character,” LL noted. “Between him and Magic [Johnson], you captured a few generations of just love and excellence.”
LL also shared an endearing anecdote from Kobe’s brief foray into rap, recalling how the Lakers great almost released a gangster rap album.
“He played me this album, this gangsta rap album and I was like, ‘Kobe,’ I said, ‘Come on dog. That's not what you need to be doing,’” the NCIS: LA star recollected with a chuckle. “He played me that album, we're sitting in a parking lot. I was confused, I was sittin' there like, ‘What are we doing? You got endorsements, what are you doing?’”
“It had to be the funniest moment of my life, listening to him do gangster rap,” LL reminisced.
As some fans may remember, Kobe was signed to Sony Records where he tried to get his rap career off the ground while chasing after his basketball aspirations. He appeared on a remix of Destiny’s Child’s R&B classic “Say My Name” and was featured on a track with Brian McKnight. Kobe also released one single, “K.O.B.E,” that was supposed to be on his debut album and even performed the track at the 2000 NBA All-Star Game alongside supermodel Tyra Banks. Even though the album was never released, it is another testament that Kobe always gave his all.
“We're not gonna pretend like we wasn't laughing," LL remembered of the 2000 live performance. “The world was laughing. That was not…but, you know, he took a shot. He took a shot.”
But LL Cool J was impressed with Kobe’s career pivot to making movies, which earned him an Oscar for his Dear Basketball short film in 2018. When asked about what his Oscar win meant for the Hollywood circle, LL had nothing but praise.
“It was just proof that this guy can do anything he puts his mind to. He’s so great at basketball then he switches careers and starts getting into storytelling, and the guy gets an Oscar. I mean, it’s spectacular. It really is proof that anything is possible and that dreams don’t have deadlines,” LL highlighted. “I think Kobe’s dream and inspiration that he left in the world, and the example that he set...For many, many years to come, there’s gonna be a lot of great things that’s gonna happen in the world because he was here.”
Listen to LL Cool J’s interview about Kobe Bryant below and watch the full documentary, BET & Entertainment Tonight Present: Kobe: Father, Husband, Legend when it premieres on BET+ on March 12, 2020.
(Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)