LeBron James is devastated over the death of Kobe Bryant. The Los Angeles Lakers star has not yet publicly commented on the shocking death of the basketball legend and his daughter Gianna, but a video of an emotional James exiting the Lakers team plane a few hours after the tragic news broke just surfaced.
Lebron was headed home from the East Coast after Saturday night’s Lakers game against the Philadelphia 76ers when the news of Bryant’s death in a California helicopter crash stunned the world. The L.A. Lakers fan favorite was seen breaking down in heartbreaking video footage posted by 12 Sports. James, dressed in a white hoodie and black sweatpants, was in tears as he exited the plane and hugged several people as they tried to comfort him. James could also be seen walking with his head down as he reacted to the shocking news of the 41-year-old NBA legend’s death.
LeBron James in tears as he exits the Los Angeles Lakers team plane following the news of Kobe Bryant's death. James passed Kobe for 3rd on the all-time scoring list yesterday. pic.twitter.com/4gUYmRjUqI
— 12 SPORTS (@12SportsAZ) January 26, 2020
Just before the video of LeBron was captured, Los Angeles Times Lakers reporter Tania Ganguli confirmed on Twitter that the team found out about Bryant’s death during their flight back from Philadelphia. She described the Lakers team as “devastated and in shock.”
The tragic news of Bryant’s death comes the day after LeBron James passed Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the game against the 76ers. The Philadelphia crowd gave James a standing ovation following his milestone. In what would turn out to be his last Instagram post, Bryant paid tribute to the beloved Lakers player after he surpassed his record while playing in his hometown.
In his final Twitter post, Bryant also paid tribute to James as he praised him for “continuing to move the game forward.”
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ???????? #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Hours earlier, James spoke about how much Bryant inspired him as a young basketball player. Shortly after surpassing Bryant’s record during the game in Philadelphia last night, James explained how he looked up to Bryant when he was in grade school and high school.
“Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration,” James said, per ESPN. “It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do.”
James also talked about the first time he met Bryant, and how much it meant to him after so many years of idolizing the star athlete.
“Just admiring him for so many years and seeing him from afar, and then being able to be in practices with him, and me watching and learning — it’s just too much. The story is just too much. It doesn’t make sense,” James said after Saturday night’s game, per The New York Post. “And… now I’m here in a Lakers uniform in Philadelphia, where he’s from, where the first time I ever met him he gave me his shoes, it’s just surreal.”
While Bryant and James never played on the Los Angeles Lakers together, they were Team USA teammates at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012.