There were many people close to the late Kobe Bryant, the NBA great who died suddenly Sunday. But the world knew of the friendship between Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers’ teammate, Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal’s son, Shareef, who plays basketball for UCLA, revealed on Twitter that Bryant reached out to him the morning of his death before getting on the helicopter that would ultimately take his life, the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
“Literally this morning you reached out to me,” Shareef wrote on Twitter with a screenshot of his direct messages with Bryant. “I love you forever unc. I love you.”
The DMs then detailed that Bryant reached out to the younger O’Neal a little after 8 a.m. asking, “You good fam?” Shareef replied nearly three hours later saying, “Yeah! Just been getting this work in trying to figure out my next move. How you been?”
Still, by then Bryant had already perished in the crash, which occurred around 10 a.m. local time, according to authorities.
When Shareef finally realized he had just lost Bryant, he turned to Twitter, writing: “Wait…Can’t be real…please don’t be real…please don’t be real.”
Bryant, an NBA All-Star who had led the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships, left behind his longtime wife, Vanessa, and three other young daughters.