Shaquille O’Neal, 47, revealed how he learned of his “brother” Kobe Bryant‘s tragic death from a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 and the difficulty he’s having coping with it in a heartbreaking interview on NBA on TNT on Jan. 28. The former Los Angeles Lakers player had tears streaming down his face as he reflected on his time with Kobe, who was his teammate from 1996 until his own retirement in 2004, and talked about how devastated he is that there will be no future with him.
“My nephew comes in crying and he shows me his phone and I snapped at him, I said, ‘Get that out of my face. Get it away from me’,” Shaq said while talking about how he first found out about the helicopter crash that killed Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others. “We live in a world where anything could be photoshopped, anything could be hoaxed. I didn’t want to believe it.” He went on to explain how phone calls from several of his friends and colleagues confirmed the unbelievable news. “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” he admitted while calling Kobe his “little brother”.
“Our names will be attached together for what we did,” he continued before talking about how the initial rumors that former Lakers player Rick Fox was also on the plane (it was quickly confirmed he wasn’t) only added to the heartbreak he was already feeling. “Now I’m sick even more. I’m calling Rick and he’s not answering, so now I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’,” he explained about the motions he went through on that fateful day. “And then the final blow, his lovely daughter was with him on the helicopter.”
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Shaq then got even more emotional as he talked about what he and Kobe will never be able to do. “The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony, we’re not going to be able to say, ‘Haha I got 5, you got 4’, the fact that we’re not going to be able to say, ‘If we would stay together we could have got 10’, those are the things that you can’t get back,” he tearfully said before mentioning his father and his sister, who he also previously lost. “I just wish I could say something to them again.”
You can see the full interview of Shaq talking about Kobe above.