Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a big Philadelphia Eagles fan, always rooting for his hometown team when it came to football. So it should come as no surprise that when he sat next to Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. at a Lakers game in December, he told Shenault he wants him to play for the Eagles. Shenault is expected to be drafted in the first round at the 2020 NFL Draft in April.
Thanks to a series of coincidences, Shenault ended up sitting courtside next to Bryant at the Staples Center on Dec. 29 to watch the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks. His soon-to-be-agency Klutch Spots Group told him they had clients who were not going to be able to get to the game, and they passed the tickets to him, reports DNVR. Bryant was joined by his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash.
"That was a very special moment," Shenault told DNVR at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Tuesday. "I know he was a great father. He was a great dad."
Shenault said Bryant spent most of the game explaining what was happening on the court to Gianna.
"He was a great family man, of course, everyone sees that," Shenault recalled. "They were just talking the whole time. He was trying to help her understand things and they were just laughing and having a good time."
However, Shenault said he will always treasure the moment Byant told him he hoped the Eagles would draft him.
"I actually haven’t been able to talk to anybody about this, but one of the talks we had—he had an Eagles hat on, and one of the things he said was, 'Man, Philly sure needs a receiver,'" Shenault said. "That was so exciting for him to say that... I responded with, 'Aye, I can get the job done for you.' That was a special moment."
An NFL source later told DNVR the Eagles are really interested in Shenault.
"It definitely hit me hard," Shenault said of Bryant's death. "As the day went on, I was just like, 'That's crazy. That really happened.' I just saw him… It hit me hard. I got the blessing to meet a great, legendary player and a great person as a whole."
Bryant was born in Philadelphia and went to high school at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets right out of high school, but was traded to the Lakers before the 1996-1997 season. He played 20 seasons with the Lakers before retiring in 2016. He won five NBA championships and both his numbers, 8 and 24, were retired by the team.
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