It has been just over two months since the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant after he, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
Tributes immediately poured in for the Los Angeles Lakers legend as athletes across the sports world shared personal memories they have of Bryant.
Newly-acquired Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts recalled previous conversations he had with the five-time NBA champion, including one that took place during the 2019 MLB season while in the midst of a slump at the plate, via David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports:
“Obviously I’m a fan. I actually got to talk to him a pretty decent amount through Body Armor when we did things together. When I was struggling last year early on, me and him talked a little bit. He kind of gave me some words of advice. Last time I talked to him, I told him I’d see him out in L.A. And then the [accident] happened, so it’s really unfortunate.”
Betts detailed that particular phone call with Bryant, revealing that he told him to remain confident throughout his struggles:
“Just [to keep moving forward] and that I have to be myself. No matter what I have to keep trying to instill fear in whoever I’m competing against, no matter how I feel. That kind of resonated. No matter how I felt that day, I was going to go in, be confident in myself and do what I can.”
While Bryant’s loss was particularly felt in the NBA, other sports teams such as the Dodgers had a difficult time coping with the news.
As the Dodgers held their first full-squad workout in February, manager Dave Roberts spoke to his players, recalling a message Bryant shared on the night of playing his final game for the Lakers. The point was further driven home by Roberts wearing the Nike Kobe Mamba Focus shoe.
2019 National League MVP winner Cody Bellinger also spoke fondly of Bryant and was appreciative of receiving a congratulatory video message from him shortly after accepting his award.
Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner additionally reflected on Bryant’s impact, praising his career and philanthropic efforts.