Justin Timberlake Mourns Pal Kobe Bryant After Over 20 Years Of Friendship: ‘My Heart Is Broken’

As more tributes pour in remembering Kobe Bryant, Justin Timberlake added his eulogy, praising the departed NBA icon for how he 'never stopped aiming to inspire me.'

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Justin Timberlake, 38, added his voice to the chorus of public figures, athletic professionals, and celebrities sharing their parting words on Kobe Bryant. On Jan. 27, the Grammy winner took to his Instagram page, sharing a number of photos of the pair together at various events. Far more touching, however, were the words Justin used to describe his more than 20-year-long friendship with the LA Lakers icon. “We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process,” Justin began the lengthy caption to his post, adding that he was “in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality.” Beyond recollecting the start of their relationship, Justin went into how the pair matured as time elapsed.

“As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable,” Justin mused about the departed athlete. “And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak, something started to change… your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself,” he recalled.

Given their decades-long friendship, Justin recalled “the ‘old man’ jokes” the pair traded back and forth and how much they “both appreciated a good ‘ribbing.'” Still, Justin credited Kobe as the person who “never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge – it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person.”

The singer and entertainer went on to share that, overtime, it was their connection as fathers that made their bonds all the more strong. “THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me,” he shared, before adding, “I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy. My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers.” Before closing out his statement, Justin shared, “Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now.”

Justin and many public figures like him have shared their parting words of the NBA player since his tragic death on Jan. 26. Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other civilians were tragically killed in a helicopter crash near Calabasas while onboard the aircraft. In the wake of the tragedy, legions of fans and admirers have shared their tributes and offered their support to Kobe’s family. The 62nd Grammy Awards, which occurred the same day as the unfortunate incident, even served as an opportunity to remember the basketball player at the event location in LA’s Staples Center — a second home to Kobe. In the wake of his and his daughter’s untimely passings, Kobe and Gianna leave behind wife and mother Vanessa Bryant, 37, and daughters and sisters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. To read Justin’s full statement, click the link here.

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