Kobe Bryant's impact on the sports world extended far beyond the basketball court, as made clear by Michael Vick's emotional comments about meeting the Los Angeles Lakers star for the first time. The former NFL quarterback recalled Bryant telling him just two words during their first meeting, "Be great." Bryant died on Sunday in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
"When I met Kobe for the first time and he signed a jersey for me, he told me to 'Be Great.' That's all he had to say...I can't say enough about that man and what that day did for me."@MichaelVick on Kobe Bryant 💛💜 pic.twitter.com/YLZVYKkFSo— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 28, 2020
"When I met Kobe for the first time and he signed a jersey for me, he told me to 'be great,'" Vick recalled during Fox Sports' Super Bowl LIV Opening Night coverage in Miami. "And that's all he had to say."
"I watched countless videos of him working and how hard he tried to be the best at his position, respectively, and I just can't say enough about the guy and what that day did and what that signing of the jersey did for me," the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback said. "In terms of legacy and what he's been able to build as a player and a man, I think sets the tone for what he's been able to accomplish in his life. We'll always miss him."
Vick is hardly the only current and former football star to pay tribute to Bryant.
"Still can't comprehend or believe it," Houston Texans star J.J. Watt tweeted, alongside a photo of Bryant and Gianna. "Devastating. Truly devastating. Rest In Peace."
"I had so much respect for him as a competitor," New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees told ESPN at the Pro Bowl Sunday. "I know he inspired so many people in so many different ways. One of the great competitors of any generation. Not just with sports, but with the way that he approached a lot of things."
Former Denver Broncos player Shannon Sharpe shared photos with Bryant, along with a lengthy tribute on Twitter.
"Everyone knows KOBE's nickname 'Black Mamba,'" Sharpe wrote. "Black Mambas are deadly not only because of their venom but, they'll strike w/o provocation. Kobe had no friends on the court, but off the court. Kobe had a heart of gold and made you feel like he's known you his entire life. 41 years doesn't seem like a long time, but IF* you've lived a life as accomplished and fulfilling as KOBE. It's an eternity. R.I.P KOBE. P.S Them one on one games in heaven are about to get real interesting."
Bryant and Gianna died in a helicopter crash with seven others. They were reportedly on their way to a basketball tournament at the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
The Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers were scheduled to face off at the Staples Center on Tuesday, but the teams and the NBA agreed to postpone the game until a later date.
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