In February, R&B veteran Brian McKnight honored the late NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna with a tribute song titled "Can't Say Goodbye" -- and it turns out the two had been friends for years.
In fact, Bryant actually rapped a verse on the end of McKnight's 1998 song "Hold Me," the original version of which appears on McKnight's album, "Anytime."
McKnight told ABC Audio that if it wasn't for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe might have launched a rap career instead.
"Kobe Bryant was absolutely 100% serious about his rap career," the multiple Grammy nominee said. "The problem was ... that this was before the Lakers were actually in a championship. And I believe that a year later, they were playing for a championship."
McKnight believes that Bryant's "handlers" -- the L.A. Lakers -- "needed him focused on that, more than trying to be a musical star."
"I think he thought 'I can do it all,' but we're talking about a kid who's 19 at that moment," he continued. "Of course he wants to do it all."
"It wasn't a throw-away. It wasn't just something to do," McKnight added. "But I think that life and his actual career took precedence over [it] and then once they won three championships in a row, I don't think he was thinking about rap music anymore."
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in January. Bryant won five championship rings -- from 2000-2002 and 2009-2010 -- and saw seven NBA finals in his career before his passing.