Kobe’s ‘heroic’ final act before fatal crash
Kobe Bryant was helping out the daughter of one of his fellow helicopter crash victims in the minutes before he died.
Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, one of Bryant's best friends, revealed that the NBA legend was texting him during the ill-fated chopper flight last month.
Shortly before Bryant (41), his daughter Gianna (13) and seven other people died, he called on Pelinka to help him with a favour. He wanted to help a young girl, the daughter of crash victim John Altobelli, secure a potentially life-changing sports internship.
Pelinka said it was an act typical of the nature that made Bryant a five-time NBA champion, a league MVP, an Oscar winner and a beloved figure globally; most of all in LA.
"Kobe's last human act was heroic. He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl's future," Pelinka said.
Bryant was the father of four girls and championed women in sport. Gianna was a promising young basketball player.
"He just loved his girls and there was nothing in the world that meant more to him," Pelinka said, at the memorial service held for Kobe and Gianna at Staples Center on Monday (AEDT).
"Gigi (Gianna) was Kobe's pride and joy on the basketball court and you could see it with every move she made."
Below is Pelinka's account of his final exchange with Bryant, revealed during his memorial speech.
"I was in Sunday church with my family. My phone was deep in the pocket of my jeans when I felt the familiar text buzz," Pelinka said.
"For a second, I ignored the notification, because I was in church. But for some reason, with this text, I felt a sudden urge to check my phone.
"I slipped it out of my jeans and discovered the text was from Kobe. There was nothing uncharacteristic or unfamiliar about this. For the last two decades, Kobe and I talked or texted every single day, because that's what best friends do.
"In that moment, my instincts were to put the phone down and get back to the preacher's sermon. But a gentle, otherworldly nudge compelled me to open the text, so I did.
"I quickly saw that Kobe was asking me if I happened to know a certain baseball agent based in Southern California.
"Since Kobe's question didn't have any urgency to it, I decided I'd wait until after church to respond.
"But then again, there was a gentle nudge. I grabbed my phone and texted Kobe back that I had seen the baseball agent at a Lakers game just the other night, and was happy to help him with whatever he wanted.
"It was now just past 9.30. Kobe texted back explaining his desire to help a friend of his secure a baseball agency internship for one of his young daughters.
"Kobe vouched for the girl's character, intellect and work ethic. He clearly wanted to champion a bright future for her.
"I texted Kobe right back and said I would put a plan in motion to help him get that done.
"A handful of minutes later, Kobe and Gianna and seven other beautiful souls ascended into heaven.
"Kobe had been texting me from the helicopter. The girl in that text chain that he was wanting to help so badly was Lexi Altobelli, the surviving daughter of coach John Altobelli, who was also on the helicopter.
"Kobe's last human act was heroic. He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl's future.
"Hasn't Kobe done that for all of us?
"Kobe was literally the best friend anyone could ask for."