Kobe Bryant messaged Shaquille O’Neal’s son Shareef hours before tragic crash
On Sunday, the world was rocked by the news that 41-year-old Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Sadly, the devastating news would continue to pour in, as it was later revealed that eight other people died in the incident, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
As further details about the crash are made public, many of those closest to the LA Lakers legend are sharing their final moments and treasured memories of Bryant. One of which is 20-year-old college basketball player Shareef O'Neal - son of fellow NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Following the news, Ellen shared her own tribute with her viewers:
Sharing a screenshot with his 227,000+ Twitter followers, Shareef revealed that Kobe had checked in on the youngster at 8:29am - just hours before the fatal crash.
O'Neal captioned the image: "Literally this morning you reached out to me .... I love you forever unc. I love you".
The screenshot shows that Kobe Bryant messaged Shareef on Instagram, asking: "You good fam?" To which Shareef replied: "Yeah. Just been getting this work in trying to figure out my next move. How you been?"
Sadly, Bryant was not able to send a reply prior to the devastating helicopter crash.
In the last 24 hours, Shareef has retweeted many messages of people paying respect to Bryant, as well as several of his own tributes to both Kobe (whom he referred to as "uncle") and Gianna.
Shareef also tweeted that he is struggling to sleep following the news, and suggested a parade in LA in honor of his former mentor.
Bryant and Shareef's father Shaquille were teammates at the LA Lakers and won three NBA championships together.
Shaquille has also taken to Twitter to pay respect to Bryant, writing: "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 [sic]"
He added in a second tweet: "Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah."