HomeWorld NewsLeBron James refused to believe Kobe Bryant was dead when first told on during hellish Lakers flight into LA – The Sun
LeBron James refused to believe Kobe Bryant was dead when first told on during hellish Lakers flight into LA – The Sun
LEBRON James refused to believe Kobe Bryant was dead when he was first told about the tragic helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend.
Lakers star James first learned of Bryant's death during a hellish team flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
The plane then fell into a "suffocating silence" as the players struggled to come to terms with the tragedy.
Bryant, 41, was killed along with 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash outside Calabasas, California on January 26.
The devastating news was broken to James by Lakers' power forward and pal Anthony Davis.
It had been teammate Dwight Howard who informed Davis of the crash.
Recalling the heartbreaking moment, Davis told ESPN's Dave McMenamin: "Dwight tells me, 'Man, Kobe died'. And me thinking as invincible as Kobe Bryant is, I'm like, 'Kobe who?' "Because I'm like, 'that's not – it's not Kobe Bryant'.
"And he was like, 'Kobe'. And I was like, 'OK. Kobe who? I'm not sure who you're talking about'.
"And he was like, 'Kobe Bryant'. And at this time, Bron is still asleep. So I was like, 'Wait, what? How? Like, I need details, like, tell me'.
Davis then woke James, who refused to believe the shocking news.
He explained: "I remember the first thing Bron said to me was, 'Man, y'all stop playin' – like, stop playing with me'.
"And I'm trying to get on the internet. And Dwight, like, you can see him start crying. He was like, 'It's true'.
Still in a state of shock, the players then logged on to the plane's WiFi network.
Davis added: "By this time, all the players have woken up. Everybody's trying to get to the internet to get on their phone and see what's going on. 'Is it true?' Or, 'What's going on'."
The plane then fell into what one passenger described to ESPN as a "suffocating silence".
James then led a group prayer, according to reports.
He told ESPN: "It was just off the top off my head, just off the cuff.
"I think it was needed for us to come together and just give thanks to the man above.
"Even though at times we question him and question why he do some of the things that he do, know that he's never made a mistake.
"And just hope that he has his hands on top of [Bryant's wife] Vanessa and the kids at that time, and hope that he continues to watch over all of us. So, I don't know, it wasn't something I thought about. It was something that just kind of came to me, and I said my piece."
A total of nine people died in the crash.
James was seen embracing friends and wiping tears from his eyes when he and his Lakers teammates finally touched down in Los Angeles.
Bryant spent his entire 20-year career playing for the Lakers after entering the NBA straight from high school.
He won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and in 2008 was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player.