NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal reveals a special thing that he did on the one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death. O’Neal says that the day he learned about Bryant and his daughter Gianna’s death was a real “tough” one. Bryant and O’Neal played together on the Los Angeles Lakers, where they helped propel the team to three back to back NBA Championships. While they didn’t always get along on the court, they had a strong relationship in their personal lives.
Shaquille O’Neal is known for being a tough opponent on the court. Standing at 7′ 1″, he casts an imposing shadow. However, he’s a big softie when it comes down to it, as he revealed when asked about how he spent the one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death. “I’m sort of a tough cookie, but I was more worried about [Kobe’s] parents,” Shaq said in a new interview. “So I called them, made sure they was right. We didn’t talk long, just, ‘Love you guys, if you ever need me, I’m here.'” Shaq went on and had this to say.
“Look, I’m 48. I’ve been through a lot, I’ve seen a lot. So I was more worried about his mom. I’m a mama’s boy, so that’s the first thing I did when I woke up; called his mom and just let her know that I love her.”
In addition to reaching out to Kobe Bryant’s parents, he also spoke to his wife, Vanessa Bryant. Shaq says that the widow is “doing okay under the unfortunate circumstances.” In addition to Gianna, Kobe and Vanessa had three other children together: Natalia, 18, Bianka, 4, and Capri, 1. “It was a tough day for the country, but for Vanessa and the kids, and for Kobe’s parents, his brother and sisters, it was a tougher day,” Shaq said. “So I just wanted to make sure that they were okay.”
Shaquille O’Neal went on to add, “[Vanessa] is doing a great job… I’m sure [Kobe’s daughters] already know that their father was fearless and was a caring person.” Pau Gasol also played with Shaq and Kobe Bryant on the Lakers and shared a tribute of his own. Gasol shared an Instagram post to celebrate Gianna and Kobe Bryant. “I miss you, hermano… not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do.” You can read the rest of what he had to say below.
“Your spirit, your drive, your ambition, your love … continues to shine in my life and in many others. Photos, videos, very special moments keep being shared by countless people that have admired you and loved you in their own way, reminding me how incredibly lucky I have been to share some of those moments with you… I hope you and Gigi are smiling down seeing how strong, sweet and amazing your girls are… they are growing so fast brother… I wish you could’ve met our little Elisabet Gianna. We will make sure she knows where her middle name comes from… how extraordinary, loving and inspiring her cousin Gigi and her uncle Kobe were. Today, we honor and celebrate both of you, you have left us with so much…, but even if it isn’t how we would like things to be, you are, and always will be, in our hearts.”
In addition to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, the helicopter crash on January 26th, 2020 also killed seven others, including John Altobelli, head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, and pilot Ara Zobayan. They were all heading to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. Bryant was set to coach Gianna’s team that day. The interview with Shaquille O’Neal was originally conducted by Entertainment Tonight.