Justin Timberlake is paying tribute to Kobe Bryant after the basketball legend died in a California helicopter crash on Sunday. In a post shared with his more than 50 million Instagram followers, the singer reflected on the impact Bryant and his "mentality" have had on his own life and his career.
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"We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process," Timberlake began his Monday post. "I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality. A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day."
"As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition," he continued. "But, every time we would speak, something started to change... your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself."
Timberlake went on to speak about the growth of their relationship over the years and how "the 'old man' jokes would start to be traded back and forth," joking about how Bryant "nicknamed yourself 'Vino' to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does."
"But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me," he wrote. "Your confidence in me was huge - it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don't mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person."
The "Can't Stop This Feeling" singer continued, reflecting on how the late Lakers player possessed both a "will to win" and "compassion" before going on to recall their final conversation before Bryant's Sunday, Jan. 26 death alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
"The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant," he wrote. "That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me."0comments
Timberlake went on to send his "love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy," adding that his "heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers."
"Kobe... You have connected so many of us," Timberlake concluded. "The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It's our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I'm gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever."