Alex Rodriguez is still in mourning after the death of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant on Sunday. In a new interview, the former MLB star said his friend was "entering the prime of his life" following his retirement from basketball in 2016. Rodriguez said he is still having trouble "getting my head around" Bryant's death.
"It's such a cruel thing," Rodriguez told Entertainment Tonight Thursday. "Timing never been worse, I mean, 41. Here's a guy that was entering the prime of his life, Gianna, who I knew well, Vanessa and his whole family, you know, but also to mention the other victims on the helicopter."
Rodriguez said he texted Bryant about his New Year's party in Los Angeles and recalled his "quiet friendship" with Bryant."We had such a quiet friendship and Kobe was like that with so many," Rodriguez told ET. "He whispered in your ear. He never wanted credit. He was the toughest human being I've ever met, but one of the kindest, and one of the smartest, and he came on my podcast last year and I just love him to death. He was like a younger brother and he inspired me and I learned so much from him. My prayers go out for him and Vanessa and obviously all of Lakers nation."
The former New York Yankees star said Bryant was constantly inquisitive and had a "thirst for information," even asking about Jennifer Lopez's routines.
"He never cared about what happened in front of the lights," Rodriguez explained. "He always cared about what happened behind the curtains and he taught me so much about nutrition, about lifting, about being tough, about not forgetting. He would always say, 'Don't forget who the f— you are, you're A-Rod. Don't forget who the eff you are, you're A-Rod.'"
On Thursday, Rodriguez's fiancee Lopez also discussed Bryant and said she and Shakira plan to pay tribute to the late basketball star during the Super Bowl LIV halftime show on Sunday. Lopez said Bryant went to her final Las Vegas show with his wife, Vanessa.
"I think it's affecting everybody so much because it's just reminding us, again, how fragile life is and how we have to appreciate every single moment and how we have to love people while they're here and not wait," Lopez said during the halftime show press conference. "And how we don't get the opportunity... it can be taken away from us so easily."
Just hours after Bryant's death, Rodriguez shared an emotional statement on Instagram, recalling how much he learned from Bryant.
"I learned so much from Kobe Bryant. He was naturally gifted, but had a passion for basketball like no one else I've ever seen," he wrote in part. "His work ethic was impeccable and his stress on mastering the fundamentals is what elevated him to the player he was. I've never met anyone more focused with a myopic approach.
Bryant and his daughter, 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan also died in the crash.
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