LA Lakers star LeBron James has promised to continue the legacy of fellow basketball great Kobe Bryant. James, commenting on social media for the first time following the death of Bryant in a helicopter crash, said he was “heartbroken” by the tragedy. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on Sunday.
James surpassed Bryant to become the NBA’s third-highest scorer of all time on Saturday. The pair never played together in the NBA as James joined the Lakers two years after Bryant’s retirement, but they did join up at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, helping the United States win two gold medals. “I’m not ready but here I go,” James posted on Instagram. “Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bryant called James after he played in Philadelphia on Saturday night to congratulate him for moving up to third on the league’s all-time scoring list, passing Bryant, who scored 33,643 points in his NBA career.
Bryant’s final post on Twitter before his death was a message to James, saying: “Continuing to move the game forward KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA,” James wrote.
“Didn’t think for one bit in a mn years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! “Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this on my back and keep going!!”
He added: “There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!”
The NBA has called off the Los Angeles Lakers’ match against the LA Clippers later yesterday.
US authorities are continuing to investigate the crash in foggy conditions in the hilly terrain outside Los Angeles.
Jennifer Homendy, a member of the National Transportation Saftey Board, which is investigating the crash, said the helicopter requested special flight rules before trip and later ascended to avoid clouds before the crash.
She called on the public to assist the investigation by submitting photos of weather in the area. Along with Bryant and his daughter, the crash killed John Altobelli, a basketball coach and his wife and daughter, Keri and Allyssa.
More than 1.3mn people have now signed a petition to use Bryant’s image as a new official NBA logo, US media reported late Monday.
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