Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning and it has rocked the entire world. He had his share of friends in the sports world and one of the most notable sports figures just wrote a letter to the Lakers legend. Derek Jeter, who was recently elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, penned a letter to Bryant which was published in the Players' Tribune and he talks about what having Bryant as a friend meant to him.
"All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had — they were always about family," Jeter wrote. "Put aside one of the all-time great basketball careers for a second. Put aside his famous work ethic, the Mamba mentality, that incredible will to win. I'll let everyone else tackle that.
"But when I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter. I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn't really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family — he was his family. That's what was important."
Jeter went on to send his thoughts and prayers to the Bryant family including wife Vanessa. He also sent his condolences to the families of the other victims on board, including Bryant and Vanessa's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
"I want to give my deepest condolences to Vanessa and the rest of the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers," Jeter added. "Tragedies like this have a cruel way of reminding us of what's important in life: spending time with our loved ones, and being there for them no matter what. Which makes today's events feel especially cruel — because no one needed less reminding than Kobe.
"I've seen the guy go for 81. I've seen him hit all kinds of buzzer beaters. I've seen him win gold medals and championship rings. But I've still never seen him look as happy, in those big moments on the court, as he looked the other day off of it: with an arm around Gigi, sitting courtside, and just….. talking. Yeah, sure, talking hoops — but you got the feeling in those moments that he would have been content talking about anything."
Jeter ended the letter by sending a message to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the rest of the passengers who were on board.
Bryant and Jeter were two of the top sports stars in the late 90s and 2000s. Together, the two won 10 championships as Bryant won five NBA Finals and Jeter won five World Series.