It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss mourns loss of ‘family’ in Bryant

229

Agence France-Presse

Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, made her first public comments since Kobe Bryant’s death via Instagram on Thursday, calling the franchise icon “family.”

“Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers,” wrote Buss, daughter of longtime owner Jerry Buss who died three years before Bryant retired.

Bryant, who won five NBA titles in a 20-year tenure with the Lakers, died Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people.

“My father loved you like a son, which makes us family,” Buss wrote.

“When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men.

“At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality — and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing — what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for.

“For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination.”

Buss expressed sympathy to Bryant’s wife Vanessa and their other three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

“We will always be here for you,” she said. “To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you.

“Laker Nation – we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly.

“We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you. Kobe – that’s what you made you so unbelievably special. You not only inspired us towards greatness, you showed us the way.”