Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life: Lakers GM Rob Pelinka Reveals Last Text Message Star Sent Before Fatal Crash

Just before his sudden death, Kobe Bryant sent his final text message to Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, his former agent. Pelinka spoke about the text during his powerful eulogy at the celebration of life memorial for Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant. The Lakers legend and Gianna died alongside seven other victims in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, California.

"The world knows Kobe as a basketball legend but I've been blessed for 20 years to know him as so much more," Pelinka began his speech, reports Entertainment Tonight. "The Kobe I know had three unique sides that I hope to quickly honor today. Kobe the best friend. Kobe the dad. And Kobe the husband. I will start with Kobe the best friend."

Pelinka said he was in church when the crash happened. His phone suddenly buzzed with a text notification, but Pelinka ignored it at first. However, he felt a "sudden urge" to check his phone. He saw it was a text from Bryant.

"There was nothing uncharacteristic or unfamiliar about this for the last two decades Kobe and I talked or texted every single day 'cause that's what best friends do," Pelinka explained. "In that moment, my instincts were to put the phone down and get back to the preacher's sermon but a gentle otherworldly nudge compelled me to open the text, so I did. I quickly saw that Kobe was asking me if I happened to know a certain baseball agent based in Southern California."

At first, Pelinka did not think of immediately responding because the question did not seem urgent. Then there was another "gentle nudge," so he quickly texted Bryant back that he knew the agent was at a recent Lakers game and was happy to help.

"It was now just past 9:30," Pelinka said. "Kobe texted back explaining his desire to help a friend of his secure a baseball agency internship for one of his young daughters. Kobe vouched for the girl's character, intellect and work ethic. He clearly wanted to champion a bright future for her. I texted Kobe right back and said I would put a plan in motion to help him get that done."

Moments after trading texts with Bryant, Pelinka learned his longtime friend and Gianna died in the helicopter crash. He later learned the people Bryant wanted to help out was John Altobelli, who died in the helicopter crash, and Altobelli's surviving daughter Lexi.

"Kobe's last human act was heroic," Pelinka said. "He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl's future. Hasn't Kobe done that for all of us? Kobe was literally the best friend anyone could ever ask for. He always championed and passionately celebrated the accomplishments of others and downplayed his own. The man who had won multiple NBA titles, MVPs and an Oscar would buzz with excitement when someone he loved would reach even a simple goal. With any achievement, Kobe was always the first to call. This was one of his greatest gifts as a friend and something I will forever miss."

Pelinka said Bryant embraced fatherhood after he retired from the NBA in 2016. He also reflected on Bryant's impact on his own family.

"The other day my 9-year-old daughter, Emery, had big tears in her eyes because she was so badly missing Uncle Kobe and Gigi," Pelinka explained. "When I asked her why she said, 'Daddy, whenever Kobe would see me he would run to me and scoop me up in his giant arms and raise me high above his head. Kobe always made me feel like I was queen of the world.'"


Bryant and Gianna died in the helicopter crash on Jan. 26 with seven others. The celebration of life was scheduled for Feb. 24 in reference to Bryant's number 24 and Gianna's number 2.

Photo credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images