“Took these days for granted. Thought i was really going to play against you forever. Appreciate the competitive nature you brought out in me, s—t can’t lie i ain’t know i had some of this s—t till you had out them a-s whoopings an i had to figure it out. The game misses your avatar but we all know your soul is all around it. Miss you,” Smith wrote.
Tributes to Bryant and his late daughter Gigi are expected to pour in over the course of the week as the NBA, fans, professional athletes and others will remember their lives.
Bryant, 41, was one of the most recognized athletes across the world. He was selected in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets out of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania.
He subsequently was traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac before the start of the 1996-97 season. It proved to be one of the most important trades in NBA history.
Bryant would help lead the Lakers to five NBA championships and was a part of one of the best NBA dynasties alongside Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant and O’Neal won three straight NBA titles from 1999 to 2002. He then won two rings with Pau Gasol in 2009 and 2010.
“The Black Mamba” wrapped up his playing career in 2016. He played his final game against the Utah Jazz and finished with an epic performance – 60 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Bryant was on a helicopter flying over Calabasas – a city of 23,000 people located about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles – when it crashed in foggy weather Jan. 26, 2020.
Officials said all those on board died.