Derek Jeter Remembers His Friend Kobe Bryant: 'He Was His Family'
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Derek Jeter is remembering his longtime friend and fellow athlete, Kobe Bryant.
The 45-year-old former professional baseball player penned a moving tribute to the late Bryant in The Players' Tribune just hours after the former Los Angeles Lakers star's tragic death.
ET confirmed on Sunday that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with seven other passengers. Bryant was 41.
"Throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had -- they were always about family," Jeter begins his piece.
"When I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter," writes Jeter, who shares daughters Bella, 2, and Story, 1, with his wife, Hannah. "I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was down as an absolute assassin with the ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn't really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family -- he was his family. That's what was important."
Jeter also talks about the bond Bryant shared with Gigi.
"I’ve still never seen him look as happy, in those big moments on the court, as he looked the other day off of it: with an arm around Gigi, sitting courtside, and just….. talking," he writes. "Yeah, sure, talking hoops — but you got the feeling in those moments that he would have been content talking about anything."
Noting that the late athlete "loved being a dad," Jeter concludes, "Rest in peace to Kobe Bryant — who knew that his life was only as important as the love he had for the people in it. Who knew that he was born to play basketball. But it was family over everything."
Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa and their daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
For more star tributes to Bryant, watch the clip below:
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