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Many Lakers fans are still in shock following news of Kobe Bryant’s death—few more so than a fellow NBA icon.
The 41-year-old father of four died Sunday in a helicopter crash in fellow Los Angeles Laker, NBA legend and close friend of Bryant, shared his anguish via Instagram. James’ emotional post devastated Bryant’s still grieving fans, who’ve been trying to express their sorrow on social media.. All eight additional passengers, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, also perished. Fans are still reeling from the news, and their shock turned to grief last night when LeBron James, a
James’ raw post came two days after Bryant’s death. In it, he noted that he wasn’t yet ready to face his sorrow but soldiered on anyway. “Man I 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 wrote alongside several pictures of the duo. “I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.”
Referring to Bryant as his “brother,” James went on to express his love for Bryant’s wife Vanessa and her three remaining children, the youngest of which is less than a year old. “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,” James continued. “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!!”
The emotional post immediately tore at the heartstrings of fans, who took to social media to express their own grief. “LeBron’s IG on Kobe just took me out for the 6383736th time in the last 2 days,” Bleacher Report journalist Tyler Conway wrote.
LeBron’s IG on Kobe just took me out for the 6383736th time in the last 2 days pic.twitter.com/M2ea9os4i0— Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) January 28, 2020
Lebron’s IG post! The brotherhood and respect they had for each other... pic.twitter.com/isrxvPuw3T— Rocio (@CocoMar24) January 28, 2020
Just read Lebron’s IG post, & i here i go with the water works again 🥺 pic.twitter.com/STFcDOcQHJ— #8 #24 (@Mreverything_22) January 28, 2020
A few fans shared footage from a 2009 ABC interview featuring James and Bryant. In it, the friends joke and compliment one another for their playing styles.
LeBron's IG is very heartfelt. This footage on ABC of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant seems like a million years ago. It was released just last week. pic.twitter.com/KiPKrmvu8u— Cameron Grant (@HeyCoolCam101) January 28, 2020
It was particularly devastating for some to see that James changed his Instagram profile picture to a photo of Bryant and Gianna.
Crying all over again. This picture breaks my heart.— 𝑨𝒏𝒈𝒊𝒆 𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆⁷ - Hobi Day 🥺🥳 (@AngieGraceLA) January 28, 2020
just saw Lebron's ig post about Kobe's passing and i'm a crying mess again. He even changed his profile pic to Kobe and Gianna's pic.. This is too painful and heartbreaking 😭😭😭💔💔💔 #MambaForever pic.twitter.com/GWJPfi1DXX— Angela Lara (@xoxogHeLa21) January 28, 2020
Yet some people took to James’ post to condemn the 35-year-old for his “role” in Bryant’s death, throwing out absurd conspiracy theories.
Fans of both Bryant and James rushed to his defense. “Do y’all not have any sense of humanity,” one Twitter user asked. “This man just lost one of his idols and friend and you guys are blaming him for it? I honestly lost all hope for humanity.”
It’s so sad that on LeBron’s IG that people are accusing him of having something to do with Kobe’s death, like do y’all not have any sense of humanity? This man just lost one of his idols and friend and you guys are blaming him for it? I honestly lost all hope for humanity.— Xhayir (@kingofthebrass) January 28, 2020
In the comment section for one of James’ earlier Instagram posts, several people did indeed accuse the Lakers star of somehow being related to Bryant’s death. Others shared wild and baseless conspiracy theories that the crash was “premeditated,” and accused James of being involved.
People on LeBron's IG can't even let him mourn in peace... disgusting pic.twitter.com/J2YrSixTv2— cryptic incognito (@CrypticNo) January 27, 2020
Hordes of commenters heaped on, accusing James of somehow having a role in Bryant’s death, making more absurd claims about how it was a “sacrifice” somehow tied to James’ NBA scoring record.
Saw those screenshots of LeBron’s IG comment section and that is truly amongst the most disgusting behavior i’ve ever seen on the internet. Those people should be ashamed of themselves.— Aaron (@abake6) January 27, 2020
The comments on Lebron’s IG post are just devastating. Social media doesn’t define how much you care about someone. Let the man grieve in peace! He is clearly mourning the lost of his friend but all y’all worried about is him posting about it grow tf up!— Merry Ann De Jesus (@merryann_10) January 27, 2020
Bryant often chose to use a helicopter rather than ground vehicles for travel. Investigators are still in the process of determining the exact cause of the crash, but foggy conditions are assumed to be the culprit.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.