(via www.usatoday.com)

In the Lakers’ first game back since the death of Kobe Bryant, emotions ran at an all-time high. And though the team lost the contest, the game had much bigger implications than the box score.

Speaking after the game, LeBron James opened up about Kobe and what being with his family meant to him.

(via Adam Wells of Bleacher Report)

“You know, for me, I was telling my wife a couple of days ago. I was like, ‘Seeing Kobe play the game of basketball for 20 years for the Lakers, since he was 18 to 38, and I was like, you know what’s crazy?’ And she was like, ‘What?’ I was like, ‘You know what? These last three years, out of all the success he had, five rings, multiple MVPs at the All-Star Game, MVP of this league, first-team everything, all-life, all-world, all-basketball, I felt like these last three years was the happiest I’ve ever seen him.’

“I think we all can say that. It’s like the happiest that I’ve ever seen. Being able to just be with his daughters, be with his family, because when we’re playing this game of basketball, we give so much to it. It’s my 17th year, so I know. You give so much to it that, unfortunately, your family comes to the wayside at times, because when you want to be great at something, when you want to be the best at something, you become so driven that you won’t let nothing stand in the way of it. Not even your own family sometimes.”

It’s so easy to take what these players are doing for granted. Most of these players are working every day to improve their game, help their team, and pile up victories on the basketball court. They give up a large part of themselves so they can be the best at what they do.

For Kobe, the end of his playing days meant the start of a time spending his moments with the people he loved. So, in the midst of a rough week for the league, we can take solace in the fact that Bryant died doing what he loved the most: being with his family.