NBA legend Kobe Bryant was known for his big heart, granting hundreds of Make-A-Wish Foundation requests to bring smiles to young fans. He also worked in secret to help children coping with an illness. According to a Facebook post that has gone viral since Bryant's death on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers star visited a dying boy in an Arizona hospital.
Kristen O'Connor Hecht, the wife of former Phoenix Suns director of corporate partnerships Tom Hecht, was working at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center when a cardiologist asked her if Tom could get Bryant to sign a basketball for a 5-year-old boy also named Kobe while the Lakers were visiting Phoenix. Hecht called Tom and thought there was no way this would happen. The next day though, Tom said Bryant would sign a ball for the boy, who had a heart defect, and wanted to visit him!
"So the next day, with the support of the Colangelo family, a limousine brought Kobe Bryant to my office," Hecht wrote. "Under a cloak of secrecy - neither security or PR people were informed (I got in a little trouble for that but it was so worth it!) the three of us scrambled up a back staircase to this little boy's room in cardiac ICU. 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."
Little Kobe's doctor smiled as Bryant met his patient, and Bryant asked Hecht if there was some way he could help Kobe's treatment.
"I was floored," Hecht wrote. "I was floored not only by his sincerity and offer of generosity, but the kindness and warmth he displayed."
"Little Kobe passed away the following week," Hect wrote. "About three weeks later I got a letter from Little Kobe's mom describing the power in those moments. She said those were the most joyful moments of his entire life. The photos were the only photos she had of him smiling. According to Kobe Bryant's PR people 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...' May God shine eternal light upon your soul, Kobe."
Hecht's Facbook post quickly went viral, with more than 47,000 shares and 6,500 comments.
"Just when I was getting use to reading about Kobe without crying ....damn gotta start over lol," one person wrote.
"Thank you for sharing," another wrote. "There is so much negative news. This was a pleasure to read!"
"He never forgot his humble beginnings," one fan wrote. "He was a bigger man than he was a superstar Basketball player. There's not many who would do what he did for others."
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday, along with seven others. He spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, retiring in 2016.
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