Basketball legend Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26th, 2020. He was 41-years-old.
Fellow NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo was particularly close to Kobe, and his silence during this period of mourning has had just as big an impact as any.
The ‘Greek Freak’ shut down his presence on social media in wake of the tragic situation. His Instagram and Twitter have been deleted and the star has yet to make a public appearance.
Kobe was a mentor for Giannis. In fact, back in 2017, the Mamba challenged him to win an MVP. Giannis followed through in 2019, winning his first as he led Milwaukee to a deep playoff run.
“Kobe is one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Antetokounmpo said in an interview, in 2016, posted by the Wisconsin State Journal. “I knew that I (was) going to learn a lot from him. I just wanted to take from him his thought process like what he thinks about the game.
Bryant touched the lives of many in the league and around the community, and the impact of his death is a reflection of that.
First public statement
Giannis Antetokounmpo shared some of his memories of Kobe Bryant, including how Kobe influenced Giannis to play basketball in the first place.
“Kobe means greatness,” said Giannis. “Kobe’s two different people, the basketball player and the person off the court. He always had that smile, the always had that charisma that he carried with him. I think he touched a lot of people in the world. Touched my family, touched a lot of families that never had the chance to meet him. It’s a sad day.”
Giannis also said Kobe Bryant was one of the reasons he started playing basketball in the first place.
“I grew up with Kobe, Kobe influenced my life,” said Giannis. “One of the reasons I started playing basketball, one of the reasons I’m here today. Kobe is one of the best players to ever play the game. He was put on this Earth to be one of the best. When I’m gone, if I can impact people’s lives the way Kobe impacted mine and people’s lives around the world, that’d be a blessing.”