Dyan Cannon Remembers Kobe Bryant's First NBA Game: An "Awkward, Gawky Kid"

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The actress and longtime Lakers fan recalls her friendship with the Oscar-winning basketball star, who died at 41 in a helicopter crash Jan. 26: "He was a guy who always showed up."

I was there the first game he played at the Forum. I remember thinking, "Who is this kid? He can't make a basket! I wonder why they chose him." But I was sure proven wrong.

When he was courtside, he was very focused. But we met outside at dinners or at parties. And he became a dear friend. He was a guy who always showed up. If I wasn’t there at a game, he’d come up to my friend in my seat and ask if Dyan was OK. When my condo caught fire, he was the first one that called and made sure I was all right. He was just an amazing man.

I watched him play basketball for over 20 years. It was fun to see him unfold from boyhood to manhood, from this awkward, gawky kid who turned into this amazing father and family man. There are so many stories between us that I won’t tell, but I will say this — he loved my brownies. I brought brownies to every game, and he loved them.

This story appears in the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.