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Following the news of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant’s sudden death in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning outside Los Angeles, fellow L.A. Laker great Magic Johnson appeared Tuesday on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! to pay tribute to his close friend.
Noting that Johnson was already scheduled for the spot before Bryant’s death, host Kimmel thanked him for still coming out. “Kobe wouldn’t have wanted me to cancel,” replied Johnson. He went on to say that Bryant was a “great husband, father, basketball player,” and later added, “To see him become a great father and husband — he was enjoying life — and went away too early.”
Referencing one of Johnson’s tweets where he labeled Bryant “the greatest [Los Angeles] Laker of all time,” Kimmel said, “You were his idol. It’s unusual that you would give that title to him.” Johnson explained that both he and Bryant were “committed to basketball” and “married to winning,” but also to “playing the game the right way.”
Regarding the impact that Bryant had on fans and friends, Johnson said, “Kobe never gave an excuse, whether he was tired, hurt — the man gave everything he had.”
At the time of the accident, Bryant was traveling to a basketball game in a private helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers. There were no survivors of the crash, which occurred during low visibility and is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
In the days since, tributes and condolences have poured in from Bryant’s fans, friends and colleagues, including LeBron James, Katie Couric, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama.
Out of respect for Bryant’s family, the NBA postponed the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers, which was scheduled for Tuesday at Staples Center.
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