Shaquille O'Neal Mourns Kobe Bryant on Podcast: "I Really Lost a Brother"

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant - Getty - H 2020
PAUL BUCK/AFP via Getty Images

"We still are the best duo ever created. That's never going to change," O'Neal said Monday on 'The Big Podcast With Shaq.' "I have a little brother, but I really lost a brother yesterday."

Shaquille O'Neal is speaking out further about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. 

Speaking on The Big Podcast With Shaq, the NBA legend expressed his sadness over the death of his former teammate and Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash on Sunday outside of Los Angeles that also killed seven others.

"I'm not doing well. I'm sick," said O'Neal, adding that Bryant's death comes a few months after the death of O'Neal's sister Ayesha Harrison-Jex from cancer in October. "I'm just getting over the death of my sister ... I haven't eaten. I haven't slept. I'm looking at all the tapes. I'm sick right now," he said. 

At a loss for words, O'Neal acknowledged the possibility that critics would discuss any past issues between him and Bryant, but he reiterated that he simply wants everyone to know that their "relationship was that of brothers." 

"All this stuff that is documented between us, it was never a dislike," he continued. "This is what brothers do. ... I am the first to say, 'Hey, I got four rings and I know I couldn't get three without him.'" 

"We still are the best duo ever created. That's never going to change," O'Neal emphasized. "I have a little brother, but I really lost a brother yesterday."

"People ask me how I feel ... I gotta go back to not sleeping, not eating, not really functioning and it just hurts. It's just hard to believe," he continued. He then said that the tragedy has made him want to "delete my beef and my confrontation clause. I don't want to do that anymore. ... I just called all people I had discrepancies with and said, 'Look man, I love you.'" 

Adding that "this one going to hurt for a long, long time," O'Neal also expressed his sadness for the passing of Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who he said was born on the same day as his own daughter. "My heart goes out to Vanessa [Bryant's wife]." 

O'Neal also addressed the news that Bryant reached out to his son Shareef shortly before the crash to see how he was doing, something Neal says was just an example of the love he and Bryant shared for each other's families. "When we saw each other, it was love and respect. I just wish I could've talked to him before." 

Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died Sunday morning after the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed and erupted into flames, starting a small brush fire. The five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star selection led the Lakers in points, games played, three-pointers, steals and free throws. He is the No. 4 scorer in NBA history, having been recently been passed by LeBron James. 

O'Neal paid tribute to his former Los Angeles Laker teammate on social media on Sunday: "There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW." 

Thousands of fans, many wearing Bryant jerseys, gathered outside Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Lakers and site of Sunday's Grammy Awards, during which Bryant was honored.

National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that there was "no criminal portion" of the investigation surrounding the helicopter crash, even though the FBI is assisting. Kurt Deetz, a pilot who used to fly Bryant in the chopper, said the crash was more likely caused by bad weather than engine or mechanical issues.

In the wake of Bryant's death, the NBA has postponed the Lakers' game against the Los Angeles Clippers originally set to take place on Tuesday.