Jay-Z, 50, and Kobe Bryant had a special relationship and the rapper talked about losing his friend for the first time while speaking at Columbia University in New York City on Feb. 5. “Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we hung out multiple times,” Jay-Z said. “He was last at my house on New Year’s and he was just in the greatest space that I’ve seen him in and one of the last things he said to me was, ‘You gotta see Gianna [Bryant] play basketball.’ That was one of the most hurtful things because he was so proud. The look on his face was like – I looked and him and said, ‘Oh, she’s going to be the best female basketball player in the world.’ He was just so proud of what he said.”
The rapper also said it’s been “tough” for him and his wife, Beyonce, 38, since the deaths of Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and the 7 others who perished in the Calabasas helicopter crash on Jan. 26. “He was just a great human being and was in a great space in his life,” Jay-Z added about Kobe. Following the heartbreaking losses, Beyonce posted a tribute to Kobe on Instagram. “I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe,” she captioned a sweet photo of Kobe and Gianna.
In addition to Kobe and Gianna, the victims who lost their lives in the crash were John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri Altobelli, 46, their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Christina Mauser, 38; Sarah Chester, 45, her daughter Payton Chester, 13; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50. Kobe was just 41 years old and Gianna was 13. The cause of death for all 9 victims was blunt force trauma. The group was traveling to the Mamba Sports Academy, which Kobe founded, in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas.
“Just a great human being and was in a great space in his life.” pic.twitter.com/QJ1PTqkPmq
— Roc Nation Sports (@RocNationSports) February 5, 2020
Jay-Z is one of many celebrities and sports stars who have been deeply impacted by Kobe’s death. Kobe’s friend LeBron James, 35, honored the late NBA star and the other 8 victims with a heartfelt speech at the Los Angeles Lakers’ first game back after the tragic losses. At the NBA All-Stage Game on Feb. 16, LeBron and his teammates will wear No. 2 jerseys to honor Gianna, which is the number she wore on the basketball court.