Kobe Bryant Granted Over 100 Make-a-Wish Requests During His Career: It Was the 'Highlight of My Life'

In the wake of Kobe Bryant's tragic death along with eight others in a helicopter crash Sunday morning, news about lesser-known aspects about his life off-the-court are coming to light. One of them is his involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps arrange visits between superstars and younger patients afflicted with serious disease. As The Undefeated notes, Bryant helped make roughly 100 wishes come true during his 20-year career.

"I couldn't believe he was actually walking toward me," noted Jeffrey McKenzie, who Bryant visited when he was eight and struck with sickle cell anemia. As a result, the young patient ran up to the NBA star and hugged him, despite being shy about the encounter just moments prior.

"I just remember as a mom how much it touched me to see Kobe reach back down and embrace Jeffrey because he had gone through so much," his mother, Linda McKenzie added.

In addition to his work with Make-A-Wish, Bryant also volunteered for the Boys & Girls Club of America, where he frequently hosted basketball camps. Additionally, he was involved in the league's NBA Cares initiatives, the official spokesman for After-School All-Stars and in 2008 was named a spokesperson for Aid Still Required -- just to name a few.

Along with his work with other charities, Bryant and his wife Vanessa also launched one of their own, the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation back in 2007. Along with sponsoring international enrichment experiences for minority college students, it provided domestic and international youth scholarships for the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy, as well as raised millions of dollars over the years.

The helicopter crash happened at roughly 10 a.m. PT Sunday morning, and while the cause is still unknown, investigators believe the heavy fog and the pilot's misjudging the terrain likely played a factor. Along with Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed, as were six other passengers and pilot Ara Zobayan.

Just today, Vanessa Bryant posted a touching message on Instagram, where she directed her followers to help support the families of the other victims of the fatal crash.

0comments

"We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality," the caption read, in part. "To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna's legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org."