Derek Jeter Pens Powerful Tribute to Kobe Bryant

Former MLB player Derek Jeter, who was a good friend of Kobe Bryant, pens a powerful tribute to the late "Black Mamba."

By Pamela Avila Jan 27, 2020 4:07 AMTags

The city of Los Angeles and beyond continues to mourn the shocking death of Kobe Bryant with touching tributes to the late Los Angeles Lakers legend. 

Former MLB player Derek Jeter took to The Players' Tribune to pay the 41-year-old basketball superstar a powerful tribute

"All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had — they were always about family," the 45-year-old baseball executive begins. "Put aside one of the all-time great basketball careers for a second. Put aside his famous work ethic, the Mamba mentality, that incredible will to win. I'll let everyone else tackle that. But when I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter."

Jeter, who founded The Players' Tribune (which is also where Kobe announced his retirement back in 2015), goes on to write that beyond his gifted abilities as an athlete, Kobe was ultimately a family man. 

"He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls," Jeter continues. "He loved his family—he was his family. That's what was important. And that's the Kobe I'll remember."

Kobe Bryant Dead at 41: Look Back at His Family Photos

Kobe, also famously known to his fans as Black Mamba, died on Sunday morning, Jan. 26 when his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.  

The retired Los Angeles Lakers star, one of the best NBA players of our time, was accompanied by his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in the accident. His daughter, who was also a young basketball star in the making, was often referred to as Mambacita. 


Derek continues his tribute to Kobe, "I want to give my deepest condolences to Vanessa and the rest of the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers. Tragedies like this have a cruel way of reminding us of what's important in life: spending time with our loved ones, and being there for them no matter what. Which makes today's events feel especially cruel — because no one needed less reminding than Kobe."

Kobe is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and his other three daughters, 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka and a 7-month-old baby, Capri

"But I've still never seen him look as happy, in those big moments on the court, as he looked the other day off of it: with an arm around Gigi, sitting courtside, and just….. talking," Jetter continues. "Yeah, sure, talking hoops — but you got the feeling in those moments that he would have been content talking about anything."

Jeter concluded his tribute by writing simply that "Kobe just loved being a dad." 

"And when it comes to his legacy, I really hope we're able to take this time to remember that as an essential part of it," he added, paying his condolences to Kobe's daughter and the families of the other passengers on board. "And rest in peace to Kobe Bryant — who knew that his life was only as important as the love he had for the people in it. Who knew that he was born to play basketball. But it was family over everything."

Watch: Honoring Kobe Bryant at 2020 Grammys

During a press conference on Sunday afternoon, police confirmed that according to the flight manifest, nine people were on board the aircraft and that there were no survivors. 

So far, authorities have only named Kobe and his daughter as part of the victims. The crash remains under investigation. 

Since news broke of Kobe's death celebrities have taken to social media to share their condolences and fans have flocked to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to pay their respects.