LeBron James has been under constant scrutiny since Monday's ceremony that honored Kobe Bryant and the other victims of a Jan. 26 helicopter crash. There have been constant questions about whether or not he was in attendance at the Staples Center. James' fans, however, are less concerned about this issue considering his shared history with Bryant.
Footage surfaced on Twitter the day of Bryant's celebration of life that showed James and other young basketball players listening to a speech. This video was filmed at the ABCD Camp while Bryant was giving a speech.
As the Los Angeles Lakers star said to James and the other attendees during the brief clip, going to clubs and running around may sound like a lot of fun, but that's not important. What really matters is finding someone that loves you and creating a family together.
Here is the advice Kobe Bryant had for the top high school basketball players at the prestigious ABCD Basketball Camp during the Summer of 2001 (the two stars of the camp that year were LeBron James and Lenny Cooke). pic.twitter.com/xP8YlilzlW— Mark Dondero (@MarkDondero) February 25, 2020
For the fans of James, this footage showed the impact that Bryant made on his life. The comments may have been focused on building a family, but James still soaked them up. He wanted to learn everything he could during this camp and actually spoke about this experience the day prior to Bryant's death.
"I went to ABCD Camp and he came and talked to the kids that was there and I was just listening. I was trying to soak in everything I could," James said, per WKYC. "I remember one thing that he said was, 'If you want to be great at it or want to be one of the greats, you've got to put the work in. There's no substitution to work. I was a 15-year-old kid at that camp. You can actually find the footage.'"
This time at the ABCD Camp led to later interactions. James also described a trip that he made with his friend and business partner, Maverick Carter. The pair drove to Philadelphia to watch the All-Star Game, and they actually ran into Bryant.
"And in 2001, I believe I was playing in New Jersey and the All-Star Game was in [Philadelphia]. That Saturday, me and Maverick [Carter] drove to the Intercontinental in downtown Philadelphia and he gave me a pair of his shoes, which I ended up wearing that following night," James said. "It was the red, white and blue Kobe's. I was a [size] 15 and he was a [size] 14 and I wore them anyways.
"I sat and just talked to him for a little bit, I rocked them in the game and it was the same night that we played Oak Hill against [Carmelo Anthony]. And then I was able to see what he was able to do the next night winning [All-Star Game] MVP here in Philly, that following night."
In the years since these interactions, James continued to admire Bryant and everything that he achieved in the NBA. He spoke about the championships that the Lakers had won, as well as the difficult losses midway through Bryant's career.
The 20-year veteran changed the NBA, and James has been paying tribute in the weeks since Bryant's death. He has recreated Bryant's reverse windmill dunk and used the iconic fadeaway jump shot to defeat the Boston Celtics. Given their history together, it's expected that James will continue to honor his friend in the coming weeks and years.
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