If you're a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, you're quite aware of the many superstars who have donned the purple and gold over their illustrious careers.
From Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, each of these legends helped lift the Lakers to glory, as they passed the torch down the line.
The most recent example of that is when Bryant retired in 2016, only to pass the torch on to LeBron in 2018. Ironically, James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's All-Time leading scorer list on Saturday night. After the game, he talked at length of how much Bryant meant to him growing up and his career in the NBA.
Later that evening, Bryant sent a tweet congratulating James on the milestone, in what would turn out to be his final public words.
Less than 24 hours later, Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others would die in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
The Lakers were aboard the team plane, returning from Philadelphia when the news broke. Word quickly spread throughout the plane, as the players, coaches, and staff sat in shock and disbelief.
Video of James and his Lakers teammates getting out of the plane and consoling each other spread on social media as players sent out their condolences and tributes.
However, as Sunday rolled into Monday, James and the Lakers remained silent. The shock, sadness, and disbelief had not subsided. Like many of us, they remained at a loss for words.
On Monday evening, James finally made his first public remarks about the death of his friend, former USA teammate, and boyhood idol, Kobe Bryant. In a lengthy Instagram post, James acknowledged he still wasn't ready to talk about the tragedy, but tried anyways.
"I'm Not Ready but here I go. 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! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! 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 shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! 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!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾"
In addition to the touching tribute from one Laker legend to another, James posted multiple photos of him and Bryant, and also changed his profile picture to a picture of Bryant holding a young Gianna after the Lakers won their last championship in 2010.