Alex Rodriguez and his fiancee Jennifer Lopez have paid tribute to late basketball player Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were travelling to one of her basketball games in his private helicopter when it crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday morning. Both were among a reported nine people who lost their lives.
Taking to Instagram, baseball star Alex shared his shock at the devastating news.
“My heart hurts so much right now. I still can’t wrap my head around this. How can it be? I learned so much from Kobe Bryant… He was a role model to me, and millions around the world,” he wrote. “We met as teenagers. We followed similar paths… He was always there. Even after our playing days, he was there for me.”
Rodriguez and Bryant last saw one another recently, with the sportsman recalling how his pal declined “99 per cent of offers” coming his way in favour of “choosing instead to spend as much time with his family as possible”.
“I will remember what he told me about how much he loved Vanessa and his girls. I will remember his greatness. I will remember his guidance. I will remember his friendship. I will remember that he made me a better person,” the 44-year-old added. “Rest in peace, Kobe. Rest in peace, GiGi. My heart and prayers go out to the Bryant family and the passengers’ families.”
The other victims were pilot Ara Zobayan, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Sarah and Payton Chester.
In addition, Lopez shared a series of snaps of herself and Bryant, and explained she and her fiance had been through Bryant’s feed and remembering him on and off the court.
“Family is what matters most. We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa (Bryant) must going through right now,” she captioned the post. “Kobe you meant so much to so many and we will miss you forever.”