NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got candid when reflecting on the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.
While most are celebrating the numerous accomplishments of the Lakers icon on the court, Abdul-Jabbar is remembering the advice he once gave Bryant as a child.
According to USA Today, when Kobe Bryant was a child, he spent time with Abdul-Jabbar, who played with his father for the San Diego Clippers. Abdul-Jabbar told Bryant said that he should model his game after his father, which led to a basketball career filled with success.
“Kobe would’ve gotten every ounce out of his potential, which he did,” Abdul-Jabbar told USA Today. “You saw the killer that he was. That’s because he learned how to use it the right way and use his talents in the best way. I have a lot of respect for him. He got the best from his game and he played the smart game."
Growing into both a friendship and mentorship, Bryant would often reach out to Abdul-Jabbar for tips throughout his time in the NBA.
Abdul-Jabbar called Bryant an amazing role model for so many around the world.
"I just remember a great family and a brilliant athlete. He was so [supportive toward] his little girls. That’s the person that I miss," Abdul-Jabbar said, according to USA Today.
He recalls the bond he had with the Bryant family and a specific moment when he played peek-a-boo with a young Gianna. But what has impacted him the most in the wake of the fatal helicopter crash was the thought of the loved ones left behind.
"That, to me, is the most difficult aspect to deal with — the fact that his remaining daughters are without their dad," Abdul-Jabbar told USA Today. "Gianna is not going to be here with his family. And then there were other families that were affected by that crash. We don’t even understand the loss completely. Kobe was so popular and well known, but that was only a part of it."
The lives of Kobe Bryant and Gianna will be celebrated Monday (Feb. 24) at the Staples Center as the Lakers host a public memorial.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic, Steve Granitz/Getty Images)