Kobe Bryant: Patriots' Coach Bill Belichick Remembers a 'Special Person'

In the days since NBA icon Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash, there has been an unmatched outpouring of love and support on social media and across the world. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is one of the many that have since weighed in. He reflected upon the respect that he had for Bryant with a statement that was relayed by ESPN.

"This is an extremely sad time for the entire sports community," Belichick said, per ESPN's Field Yates. "In my 45 years in the NFL, I have never witnessed a group as captivated as the day Kobe addressed our team two years ago. The respect and reverence he commanded far exceeded him being a legendary player. He was a special person with an unmatched passion, intensity, and mentality toward achieving his goals.

"Kobe's determination led to a brilliant athletic career and paved the way for successes in the next chapters of his life. By bringing joy to millions of people with his extraordinary athletic ability, inspiring people to elevate the standard for anything they do, or performing countless acts of encouragement, Kobe Bryant's lasting impact is immeasurable. I hope our collective thoughts and prayers can help provide strength to the families of all the victims of this tragedy."

The NBA icon made a stop at Gillette Stadium two years ago, meeting with the Patriots during Organized Team Activities. He talked about work ethic with the players and explained his mindset and approach to life. One of the biggest pieces of wisdom that he imparted to the team is that you should never take an opportunity to get better for granted.

One defender, in particular, took notice of the manner in which Bryant conducted himself on the court. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who has become one of the top defensive backs in the NFL since meeting Bryant, explained how he has used the Mamba mentality to improve his game and win a Lombardi Trophy.

"I just think his mentality, how he would compete against anybody. When he stepped on the court, it was serious. He never wanted to be friends with his opponent. It was more about winning and him doing his best job. I took that from him," Gilmore said, per the Boston Herald. "It's a mentality you have to have if you want to be great. I took that one part from him that I learned and tried to apply to myself."

To finish off the speech, Bryant gifted a pair of his shoes to every single member of the team. Many of the players still have the sneakers and will forever cherish the gift while reflecting upon the impact that the late NBA star had on professional sports and on their lives.

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Bryant is no longer walking this earth, but the New England Patriots will never forget him or the way in which he became an icon each and every day.

(Photo Credit: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)