Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea has paid emotional tribute to the late Kobe Bryant following the NBA star’s tragic death last month.
Bryant was among nine people, including his daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26.
Flea, who is an avid LA Lakers fan, was invited onto ESPN over the weekend to discuss his memories of Bryant, where he described the sportsman as “an iconic fixture of the LA landscape”.
“He was someone we all loved,” the bassist said. “He came when he was 17 years old to the Lakers — I met him when he was 17 years old. He came as this arrogant kid, wildly shooting 3s in his first game… but he was always a leader, always bold. As his career went on, he became humbler and kinder and started to learn how to lift up his teammates.
“Then he retires and we watch him evolve even more,” Flea added. “He’s a storyteller: he’s putting out kids’ books, he’s coaching a girls’ basketball team — and to see him go like this is just devastating, [as well as the loss of] his beautiful little girl [Gianna].”
Flea said that now is “a time of mourning” for Bryant and the victims of the crash.
“It’s been a time of a lot of prayer and it really tests faith to come to terms to understand why something like this happens,” he said.
“One of the reasons I love sports and love basketball in particular, it brings us all together — every economic class, every race, every flavour of human being — we come together because we love this beautiful thing.”
Flea added: “Basketball is an art and just like that brings us together and brings us all under this umbrella of this incredible art form that we watch people innovate and take further and further and deeper, so does Kobe’s death bring us together.
“And we all come together and we can all cry and we can all realise that something momentous has happened and that we will never be the same. And in this city, it will never be the same. So in his life as in his death, he brings us together and it’s togetherness and for that I express gratitude.”
Last night’s Super Bowl Halftime Show (February 2) featured an understated tribute to Kobe Bryant, with Jennifer Lopez pledging during the performance that the late NBA star would be remembered.