Jeanie Buss Makes Long Statement On The Passing Of Kobe Bryant

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(via Sports Illustrated)

(via Sports Illustrated)

Jeanie Buss and Kobe Bryant were more than work associates. They were friends.

For the 20 years Kobe played for the Lakers, and the years he helped counsel them once he retired, the Mamba was the fire that kept them going. His work ethic, mentality, and sheer talent made him not only the star of L.A. but also its heart.

Reports have always expressed the relationship between Bryant and Buss as great. So when news of his death was initially brought to light, Jeanie was, no doubt, struggling to accept the unfortunate reality.

Days later, she took to Instagram to finally share her emotions in a long and heartfelt message.

Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men. At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality – and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing – what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage. For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination.

Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri - I am so sorry for your loss. We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation - we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you.

To learn more about how you can help the families affected by this tragedy go to MambaOnThree.org and to further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports visit MambaSportsFoundation.org #peace #love #joy #family #Mamba #Mambacita #2 #8 #24

It's a truly sad time for basketball right now. For the Buss family, the Lakers, and all of the families affected by the tragedy, only time will heal their wounds.

But even then, it won't be an easy thing to forget.