LeBron James, in his first public reaction to the death of Kobe Bryant, said he will take on the legacy of the Lakers great as his own responsibility.
James, in a lengthy post to Instagram, said he was "heartbroken and devastated" by the deaths of Bryant and his daughter Sunday in a helicopter crash and that he has "much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it."
"I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA," James wrote. "Didn't think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we'd have."
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I'm Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn't think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we'd have. WTF!! I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I'll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it's my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There's so much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine aboard a helicopter flight Sunday morning that crashed in Calabasas, California, northwest of Los Angeles. There were no survivors. The cause of the crash is unknown, but a federal investigation is underway.
The crash came a day after James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
James, his teammates and the Lakers coaching staff found out about Bryant's death while on the team plane back to Los Angeles from Philadelphia.
In news coverage after the plane landed, a visibly shaken James could be seen wiping his eyes with tissues as he walked alone off the tarmac.