Nearly a week after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, many fans are still coming to terms with the sudden loss of the retired NBA legend.
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, a longtime admirer of Bryant, shared some heartfelt memories about the basketball icon during a Lakers game in Los Angeles on Friday (Jan. 31).
“I remember Kobe Bryant as person evolving — a person always evolving. And as such an iconic fixture of the L.A. landscape, he was someone we all loved,” Flea told ESPN, adding that he met Bryant as an arrogant 17-year-old Lakers rookie.
“Then he retires and we watch him evolve even more,” the bassist continued. “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 also expressed his admiration of Bryant’s relentless work ethic and dedication to his craft.
“As a musician, I dedicate my life to being as good as I can be,” Flea said. “Every time I step on the stage, I will sweat blood. I don’t care if I’m in Peoria in the middle of the winter, and I got the flu, and I just played 10 concerts in a row — I’m going to go ’til I drop and do what Kobe did.”
The Lakers also held a ceremony to honor Bryant during its game on Friday. Usher performed “Amazing Grace” and Boyz II Men sang the national anthem. Later, basketball star LeBron James gave heartfelt a speech to fans in attendance.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, died Jan. 26 following a horrific helicopter crash. He was 41.
Watch Flea’s full ESPN interview below.