College basketball player Shareef O'Neal, son of Shaquille O'Neal, shared screenshots of Instagram private messages he received from Kobe Bryant just hours before the Los Angeles Lakers legend's death. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash just before 10 a.m. PT in Calabasas, California. O'Neal's father also shared multiple statements on his former teammate's death.
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O'Neal, 20, shared a screenshot of a message he received from Bryant Sunday morning.
"You good fam?" Bryant wrote.
"Yeah! Just been getting this work in trying to figure out my next move," O'Neal replied. "How you been?"
Bryant never responded before the crash.
"This first picture were messages from THIS MORNING!!!" O'Neal wrote in the caption. "I wish I didn't sleep in so I could've talked to you .. I can't even think straight right now.. I'm glad we got to bond over the years .. not only were you a great uncle you were a coach and a mentor to me too .. I love you man..thank you for everything you’ve done .. for this city , for the basketball world , and for me ... I won't let you down .. you always counted on me and lifted me up. Love you [uncle]."
O'Neal also included photos of himself with Bryant.
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Next, O'Neal shared more screenshots of past messages he received from Bryant through Instagram. Through the screenshots, O'Neal showed how Bryant was always excited to help him out.
"I'm crying while reading these messages over ... even when I was at my worst you checked in on me so often," O'Neal wrote. "I really appreciate you for that because I needed that so much.... i was so defeated sittin in that hospital everyday and I thought my basketball life was over .. you brought a smile to my face .. thank you. Love you."
Shaq, who won three NBA championships with Bryant during their time together on the Lakers, posted two Twitter tributes to Bryant. In one, he referred to Bryant's daughter Gianna as his "niece."
Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
"There's no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my [niece] Gigi & my brother [Bryant] I love u and u will be missed," Shaq wrote. "My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW."
In a second tweet, Shaq mentioned how Bryant was much more than just a basketball player.
This is a breaking story and will continue to be updated.
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