Giannis Antetokounmpo – who initially deleted all of his social media following the news of Kobe Bryant’s death – spoke to the media on Monday about the wrenching loss of his idol.
The Greek Freak used to train extensively with the legendary NBA star and looked up to him as an exemplary person and athlete who had achieved mythical status in the world of sport. He was known to work out with the late Los Angeles Lakers star during summers past.
The Milwaukee Bucks superstar kept his feelings private, as he did back when his father passed away, but he sent his sincere condolences to the Bryant family.
“Actually, I’m just trying to keep private how I feel. How I feel is up to me and everybody deals with tragedy in their own way. I dealt with tragedy a few years ago about my dad, did not come out, speak about it all. All I can say is that I pray for the people affected by it. Yesterday was a horrible day for basketball, for everybody. A lot of people were really affected by it. I send my deepest condolences to their family, Vanessa and the kids that stayed behind. All we can do is pray for them”, Antetokounmpo said.
The MVP of the NBA remembered the influence Kobe had on the whole world, including him, especially during his childhood. “He was big, man. He was big. You could feel it. You can definitely feel it in the air from yesterday, what happened around the world, how many people reached out to him and his family, you realize how big he was. I grew up with Kobe. Kobe influenced my life. Looking up to him (is) one of the reasons why I started playing basketball, one of the reasons why I’m here today.”
The Milwaukee Bucks star also noted that Kobe ‘means greatness’ and that he would feel blessed if he managed to influence the world as Kobe did. “It will be hard for another basketball player to view me as they view Kobe. Kobe was one of the best players to ever play the game. He was put on this earth to be one of the best. When I’m gone, if I can impact people’s lives the way Kobe impacted mine, people’s lives around the world, that will be a blessing.”
“Work hard. Be fearless,” Antetokounmpo said as he summed up what he believed to be the lessons of Bryant’s career.
“Don’t really care what people have to say about you, just go out there and do your job. Have a smile on your face. You’re going to have to sacrifice a lot, a lot of family time, to play this game, but your family knows why you’re put on this earth, why you play this game, to provide for them. That’s what you’re born to do.”
And as for life wisdom in general from this saddest of experiences for the young star, Antetokounmpo shared important insights he had gleaned.
“Life is short. Live your life to the fullest. To the best of your ability, go out there and do what you love. Keep a smile on your face,” he added.
“Be with people that love you. Make sure you tell your family, your kids, your mother, your (beloved), your friends that you love them.”
"Yesterday was a horrible day. For basketball, for everybody…I send my deepest condolences to Vanessa and the kids."
Posted by Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, January 27, 2020