LeBron James has broken his silence on the death of his friend Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers forward took to his Instagram page Monday evening to pay tribute to Bryant, a day after the retired Lakers legend was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others.
“I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I[‘m] sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try, I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/ bond/ brotherhood we had!” James captioned his post, which included a photo gallery showing the two NBA greats together.
“I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to L.A. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!” James added. “Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!!”
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James included two prayer emojis and asked for strength to carry on.
“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!! #Mamba4Life,” he wrote.
The crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant also claimed the life of pilot Ara Zobayan; Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife Keri Altobelli; their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach; Payton Chester, a basketball teammate of Gianna’s; and her mother, Sarah Chester.
In a press briefing Monday evening, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board said the helicopter was flying in foggy conditions when it crashed into a hillside Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but weather conditions at the time were dangerous enough that the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department grounded their helicopters out of precaution.
“It’s not safe because our helicopters, the patrol helicopters, they’re small. They only seat four passengers,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at the briefing. “They do not do instrumentation flight. They have to do visual flight only. If it’s less than 2,000 feet visibility, they’re just not taking off.”
Villanueva also revealed that paparazzi and looters have tried to hike up to the crash site. As a result, members of the sheriff’s department are now patrolling the rugged area around-the-clock on horseback, he said.
The coroner’s office is still in the process of recovering the victims’ remains from the steep terrain.