When Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident last Sunday, it impacted not just the basketball community, but the sports world in general. The biggest sporting event in the country is set to take place on Sunday with the Super Bowl, but the NFL took time to remember Bryant on Saturday night, and honor the impact he had on all athletes.
During the NFL Honors ceremony, during which winners of the 2019 NFL awards are announced, Peyton Manning delivered a speech about his friend.
Manning talked about how their careers mirrored each other, and recalled being impressed with Bryant’s attention to detail and studying his sport when they first met in 1999.
— NFL (@NFL) February 2, 2020
Manning expressed similar sentiments in a statement he released earlier in the week.
“He had this fabulous, creative mind and he was always wanting to learn more,” Manning said. “He was a friend of mine. Our careers basically overlap. He was always asking me questions about football – what’re you saying out there, what’re you doing, take me behind the ropes.
“He created [his ESPN series ‘Detail’] for the NBA. He wanted to take people behind the ropes and explain it in a way that you understand. So he asked me to do it for football. It was a real honor for me to do it.
“[He was] my friend, I will miss him. It’s real hard to comprehend.”
Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, posted her first public comments about the tragedy on her Instagram account on Wednesday.
“My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time,” Vanessa began her post. “Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.”
She continued, “We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them,” Vanessa wrote. “But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
She concluded: “Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality.”