NBA icon Jerry West spoke this evening on ABC's "Kobe Bryant: Death of a Legend" special. The former Lakers star player, coach and executive had an understandably heartbreaking reaction to the devastating news.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people reportedly killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning.
The sports world is mourning and West, 81, is hurting deeply.
“I am so saddened for Kobe’s parents, Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, Capri, Kobe’s sisters and all of the NBA fans that hold Kobe in their hearts,” West wrote in a statement. “This loss of Kobe, Gianna and everyone on board is beyond tragic and incomprehensible.
“I will love Kobe forever and always cherish the time that I spent with him. I watched him grow from an energetic kid into the man he became, making a difference in so many people’s life. He has left the world a better place, Kobe’s legacy will life forever.”
West later spoke on ABC with tears in his eyes.
West played for the Lakers from 1960-74 and coached the team from 1976-79. He later spent time in the organization as an executive, helping the franchise land Bryant in an NBA Draft trade in 1996. West currently serves as an executive for the Clippers.
The Lakers and the Clippers are set to play at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
It should be an incredibly emotional evening.