Justin Timberlake shares heartbreaking tribute to friend Kobe Bryant following his tragic death

28 January 2020, 11:54

Justin Timberlake shared an emotional post for his friend
Justin Timberlake shared an emotional post for his friend. Picture: Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianni, 13, were killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash.

Justin Timberlake has broken his silence on the death of his friend Kobe Bryant.

The Cry Me A River hitmaker, 38, took to Instagram to share an emotional tribute to the legendary NBA basketball player, describing him as a legend, a hero and an inspiration.

Justin said his "heart was broken" and sent his love to Kobe's wife, Vanessa, who has lost her daughter and husband.

Justin Timberlake expressed his sadness over the loss of Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter
Justin Timberlake expressed his sadness over the loss of Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter. Picture: Getty

Justin's full statement reads:

"We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process. I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality. A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day. As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak or text, something started to change... your patience and ease grew.

"And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself. Years passed, and the “old man” jokes would start to be traded back and forth. We both appreciated a good “ribbing.” We joked about “The Vino Club.” You nicknamed yourself ‘Vino’ to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does. But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge - it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person. People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn’t you. You had both qualities.

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We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process. I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality. A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day. As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak or text, something started to change... your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself. Years passed, and the “old man” jokes would start to be traded back and forth. We both appreciated a good “ribbing.” We joked about “The Vino Club.” You nicknamed yourself ‘Vino’ to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does. But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge - it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person. People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn’t you. You had both qualities. The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant. That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me. I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy. My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers. Kobe... You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever.

A post shared by Justin Timberlake (@justintimberlake) on

"The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant. That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me. I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy. My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers.

"Kobe... You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever."

Kobe and his daughter died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning
Kobe and his daughter died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning. Picture: Getty

Kobe and his daughter, along with seven others, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning just outside of Los Angeles.

Since then, tributes have been pouring in for the basketball player, his daughter and the other victims of the tragic crash.

Tributes have been pouring in for the family
Tributes have been pouring in for the family. Picture: Getty

Former President of the United States Barack Obama wrote on Twitter: "Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

David Beckham also added to the tributes on Instagram, writing: "This was one special athlete, husband, father and friend. Having to write these words is hard enough but also knowing we have lost an amazing human being and his beautiful and talented daughter Gianna is heartbreaking.

"The commitment Kobe showed to his sport was inspiring, to go through the pain and to finish a game off like only he could inspired me to try to be better.

"Kobe always talked about Vanessa and his beautiful girls and how proud he was of them. Kobe's passion was his family and basketball. He was determined to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to embrace the sport that he loved. His legacy will live on."