LeBron James made a heartfelt speech about Kobe Bryant on Friday night, and fans are still feeling its impact hours later. The Los Angeles Lakers played their first game since Bryant's passing on Friday at the STAPLES Center, and it was an emotional night all around. For many, the tears began in earnest when James spoke.
James took to the court for his speech with tears already in his eyes on Friday. He fought back sniffles, and even put aside the speech he had written ahead of time.
"Laker Nation, I would be selling y'all short if I read off this s—, so I'mma go straight from the heart," he said.
LeBron James: "Laker Nation, I would be selling y'all short if I read off this shit so I'mma go straight from the heart." pic.twitter.com/Ty6QrydmKu— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) February 1, 2020
His speech was met with mournful applause by those in attendance, and it rippled out on social media as well. People all over the country grieved with James, and thanked him for putting their heartache into words.
"LeBron James was the first true superstar athlete to live out his prime in the social media age. And he has done zero to pick at, other than choosing to play for different teams (for less money). His Kobe tribute was another example of a role model. He is a gem," tweeted sports columnist Andrew Brandt.
"LeBron talking about all the things Kobe accomplished playing, and yet 'the last three years was the happiest I've ever seen him, being able to just be with his daughters, be with his family,'" added ESPN host Rachel Nichols.
Beautifully said @KingJames— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 1, 2020
"The best part was Lebron giving everyone permission to not always feel they have to sacrifice family time in pursuit of greatness at your craft," another fan wrote.
Many others felt empowered by James' words, both in and out of the sports world. James has already been outspoken about Bryant's passing and his own grief, including an Instagram post on Tuesday. In it, he focused on the wife and children Bryant left behind.0comments
"My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids," he wrote. "I promise you I'll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially [Laker Nation] and it's my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There's so much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!"
LeBron basically telling everyone to care more about their families and personal lives instead of their jobs is the energy I hope everyone carries through 2020 and beyond— Rohan Nadkarni (@RohanNadkarni) February 1, 2020
Friday night's game also included a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by Usher, a cellist playing "Hallelujah alongside a highlight reel of Bryant's career, and a live performance of "See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.