Some of the most famous athletes in the world are continuing to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant.
On Saturday, retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning shared an emotional speech during the 2020 NFL Honors in tribute to Bryant, who died at age 41 in the Jan. 26 Calabasas helicopter crash which killed his daughter Gianna and seven victims.
“Last week, the sports world lost a shining light with the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant,” Manning, 43, began. “I was lucky to call Kobe my friend. Our careers overlapped almost identically. We even retired within just a few months of each other. I remember meeting him for the first time in the Lakers locker room in 1999. We immediately recognized mutual appreciation for what it took to do our jobs well.”
“His sport was different, but the way that Kobe prepared, the way that he analyzed the game, that was very familiar,” the star continued. “Kobe loved not just basketball but all sports. He was a superstar and a fan. A huge admirer of his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Kobe gave a pep talk to the team before a playoff game the year they won the Super Bowl.”
Manning noted that Bryant spoke to many sports teams over the years, including the Denver Broncos.
“Kobe understood the importance of cultivating the future of sports and more than that, of sharing the valuable lessons sports teach about life,” Manning said. “He didn’t just give advice, though. Kobe was always asking questions. ‘Hey Peyton, what are you doing at the line of scrimmage? Why did you make this audible?’ He was trying to understand football as deeply as possible.”
“Like a true champion, he never stopped learning. We knew him as a superhero in his world, but as a curious, passionate fan in ours,” Manning shared.
“The NFL joins the country and the world in mourning the loss of nine individuals who left their own indelible imprint on the lives of many,” he said. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with their families. May God’s peace be with all of them and I sure do miss my friend Kobe Bryant.”
Since the tragic accident, several prominent sports figures, including LeBron James, Lamar Odom, Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O’Neal, have shared their reactions to Bryant’s death, as well as tributes to the athletes.
Bryant and Gianna are survived by Vanessa, Kobe’s 37-year-old wife, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
After Vanessa broke her silence about the tragedy, she also revealed that a fund for the families of the seven other victims — John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan — had been set up through the Mamba Sports Foundation called the MambaOnThree Fund.