Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life: Story of Lakers Legend Secretly Visiting Sick Child Goes Viral on Day of Public Memorial

Kobe Bryant became legendary for his talent on the basketball court, but the late athlete was also known for his generous spirit, which was remembered in a touching social media post after his death last month. On Monday, Feb. 24, Nexstar Media Group's Austin Kellerman used Twitter to share a story he had found on Facebook from a woman named Kristen O'Connor Hecht, who posted about a truly memorable encounter she had had with Bryant in Phoenix, Arizona.

O'Connor Hecht explained that a pediatric cardiologist she worked with had asked her if her husband, Tom Hecht, who worked for the Phoenix Suns, could get an "autographed something" from the Lakers, who were coming to town to play the Suns. The request was for a 5-year-old "dying patient" named Kobe, who "was from one of the reservations in Arizona where basketball is life."

Tom told his wife that Kobe had "read your story and he wants to come and meet the little boy," and the next day, Bryant arrived at O'Connor Hecht's office by limousine. "Under a cloak of secrecy... the three of us scrambled up a back staircase to this little boy's room in cardiac ICU," O'Connor Hecht wrote. "For the better part of an hour they played basketball, passing it back and forth, with little Kobe, laughing, his sweet Mama smiling and laughing."

"Several autographed items were left and many photos were taken," she continued. "As we got back in the limo, Kobe turned to me and said, 'Kristen, what can I do to help? Is it a financial thing? Because I can take care of that.'" O'Connor Hecht wrote that it wasn't; little Kobe had a heart defect and was too sick for a transplant.

"I was floored," she continued. "I was floored not only by his sincerity and offer of generosity, but the kindness and warmth he displayed."

The little boy died the following week and around three weeks later, his mom sent O'Connor Hecht a letter reflecting on the time he spent with Bryant. "She said those were the most joyful moments of his life," the post continued. "The photos were the only photos she had of him smiling."

O'Connor Hecht wrote in her post that Bryant's PR person told her that "he did this everywhere but the deal was - no PR."

"From that day on he has been my hero and when people would tell me they didn't like him, I would say, 'Let me tell you a story,'" she concluded. "May God shine eternal light upon your soul, Kobe."


Later on Monday, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash, will be honored with a public memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The memorial's date is significant for the Bryant family as it combines Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers jersey number, 24, Gianna's jersey number, 2, and 20, the number of years Bryant was a Laker, the majority of which were spent playing at the Staples Center. Bryant's wife, Vanessa, added on Instagram that 20 is also the number of years that she and her husband were together.

Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images