LOS ANGELES —LeBron James broke his silence on Monday evening, posting a wrenching message on Instagram in the form of a note to the late Kobe Bryant.
“I’m not ready but here I go,” the post began. “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.”
Bryant called James after the Los Angeles Lakers played in Philadelphia on Saturday night to congratulate James for moving up to third on the league’s all-time scoring list. In doing so, James had passed Bryant, who scored 33,643 points in his NBA career.
During his postgame interview, James spoke at length about how much he idolized Bryant growing up. He told a story about a day when he was in high school and Bryant, playing in the All-Star game in Philadelphia, gave him a pair of his shoes. They were a size 14 and James wore a size 15, but he squeezed his feet into them anyway for a game later that day.
James was inspired by Bryant’s path of entering the league as a teenager straight from high school.
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!” James wrote on Instagram. “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!! 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”