Shaquille O’Neal is sharing his grief after the sudden and tragic death of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant.
The sports world lost an icon when Bryant and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 26. O’Neal spoke out with an emotional tribute to his fellow NBA legend within hours, telling fans how difficult the news has been to process.
“There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of [losing] my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant,” Shaq wrote, alongside a series of moving flashback photos of him and Bryant on and off the court over the years.
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
“I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. I’M SICK RIGHT NOW,” he concluded.
O’Neal’s son, Shareef, also shared his devastated reaction on social media and posted screenshots from a direct message conversation he and Bryant had shortly before the crash.
“Literally this morning you reached out to me,” Shareef wrote, adding that he’ll love his “unc” forever.
Literally this morning you reached out to me ….😔 I love you forever unc❤️ I love you pic.twitter.com/3oVgvKKUkm
— Shareef O’Neal (@SSJreef) January 26, 2020
Bryant is survived by his wife of nearly 19 years, Vanessa, 37, and their three other daughters – Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
He and O’Neal played for the Lakers together from 1996 to 2004 and won three consecutive NBA Championships. Bryant later took home two more titles with the team before his 2016 retirement, and received an Academy Award in 2018 for the animated short film “Dear Basketball.”
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