Many celebrities and athletes have been sharing their heartfelt tributes to Bryant. The Lakers (Bryant’s former team) and the Clippers postponed their game, instead opting for an emotional tribute to Bryant. Bryant’s former teammate Shaquille O’Neal gave a tearful speech to honor his friend.
“The last couple months have been really tough. I lost my little sister. Haven’t been doing the things I usually do. I work, we laugh, we kid, we joke. When I get back home I look at reality and say she’s gone and it hurts.
So the other day I’m down stairs working with my son Shaqir and my nephew Columbus and my other nephew comes in crying and he shows me his phone and I snapped at him. I said, ‘Man get that out of my face.'”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 29, 2020
Shaq continued, explaining how he couldn’t believe that his “little brother” was gone.
“We live in a world where where anything can be photoshopped. Anything can be hoaxed. I didn’t want to believe it. And then I got the call from you, Charles, Kenny. Everybody called me. And then we found out it was confirmed. I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while.”
Shaq explained that he had recently lost other members of his family, so the loss of Bryant was another devastating blow.
“I lost two grandmothers, lost a Sarge, lost a sister. And now I lost a little brother. Our names will be attached together for what we did, people always asked about our relationship and I tell them it’s just like me and Charles. We got two strong-minded people who are going to get it done that way, gonna say certain things, the respect will never be lost but when it comes to be inside the lines and win, thats’ what me and him, thats’ what we did. That’s what me and Charles, that’s what we do.”
Shaq, who won three back to back NBA championships alongside Kobe Bryant from 2000-2002, explained that the way the information was relayed to him was painful, especially with the rumor that Rick Fox was also on the helicopter that went down.
“It was sort of like a triple stabbing to the heart. Because after you cry and wonder about that, then I get back on the internet, Rick Fox is on the plane. Then I’m sick even more. I’m calling Rick, he’s not answering. So now I’m like, what’s going on. And then, the final blow. His lovely daughter was with him on the helicopter. You know, every time I saw his lovely wife and his kids, same thing I do with D-Wade’s kids, with Kenny’s kids: ‘Hi, I’m uncle Shaq.’ I don’t know if they know me as a basketball player. It doesn’t matter. Hi. I’m uncle Shaq. I try to make them laugh.”
Shaq cried as he shared some of his last memories of Bryant and how this whole tragedy is going to change him going forward.
“We up here, we work a lot. And a lot of times we take stuff for granted. Like, I don’t talk to you guys as much as I need to. The fact that I’m not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. I won’t be able to say ‘ha, I got five you got four. The fact that we’re not going to be able to say ‘If we stayed together we could have got 10. Those are the things you can’t get back.”
“Last time I talked to him I asked him to get 50 and he got 60. That’s the last time I spoke to him. And I just wish I could have, so, it definitely changes me. Because I work a lot, you guys know what I do. I work more than the average guy but I really have to take time to call and say ‘I love you.’ Rick Fox finally called me and said ‘I love you.’ So I’m going to try to do a better job of reaching out and talking to people. Because you never know.”