Golden State Warriors player Klay Thompson has mourned the loss of Kobe Bryant in an emotional Instagram post. The Tuesday post marked Thompson's first public comments on Bryant's death since the Jan. 26 fatal helicopter crash and came just a day after he attended the celebration of life public memorial service held at the Staples Center.
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"No amount of words can express how much Kobe meant to me and my family," Thompson began. "Growing up, he was my favorite player on my favorite team. Like so many of you, it has been hard for me to process what happened and what was lost."
"To the Bryant, Altobelli, Chester, Mauser and Zobayan families, my heart aches for your loss," he continued. "You will always be in my thoughts and prayers."
"There is not a day that goes by I don't think about you Big Bro," Thompson added of Bryant. "Rest in peace Mamba and Mambacita. Your legacies will live on, not only thru every hooper who love the game, but with anyone who has a dream and the passion to do whatever it takes to make it a reality."
Although Thompson's Tuesday post marked the first time he has publicly addressed Bryant's death, his father, Mychal Thompson, previously reflected on the moment he took his son to meet the NBA legend during the Lakers' 2001 championship season.
Me introducing my boys to Kobe in Portland...The year? Hmmm...Musta bin 2001...I think...Klay was too shy to go back there to meet him...So just Mykee n Trayce met him pic.twitter.com/ypFUAuPRCD— Mychal Thompson (@champagnennuts) January 28, 2020
According to The Mercury News, Bryant and Klay had a close relationship, with the NBA legend serving as a sort of mentor for Thompson. Bryant worked with Thompson throughout his high school years before Thompson went on to play Bryant between 2012-2016 as a member of the Warriors.
When Bryant retired in 2016 after two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers, he gave Thompson his jersey with a handwritten message reading, "To Klay, it's been a pleasure watching you grow into the player you are! Keep going!"
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. On Monday, nearly a month after the crash, 20,000 people, including his fellow NBA players, gathered in the Staples Center for a final goodbye.