The entire NBA community was crushed in 2020 by the devastating news that on January 26, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was confirmed dead along with his daughter Gianna and several other passengers after being killed in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Indeed, no one in the league ever imagined that day would come, so the last people Bryant met and talked to felt very fortunate to have seen Black Mamba one last time. Among them was Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.
The last conversation
After a game on the day he learned about Bryant’s untimely demise, Young showed up in a press conference and opened up about the subject. Everybody in the venue could tell that “Ice Trae” was deeply hurt, and he even had to wipe the brimming tears in his eyes while recounting his last conversation with his childhood idol.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how much he’s seen my game progress,” Young revealed. “Just been happy for me, just saying how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all the kids looking up to me, just continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out. And that’s one of the last things he said to me.”
A memorable tribute
On the night of Bryant’s death, Young and the Hawks were playing the Washington Wizards at home. Despite the dejection, the two-time All-Star suited up and paid tribute to Kobe by wearing a No. 8 jersey.
To make every person inside the State Farm arena join him in his special tribute to Bryant, “Ice Trae” intended to go for an “8” seconds violation after getting the ball from tipoff.
On the other hand, the Wizards also honored the deceased NBA icon by not pulling off a play in their first possession, letting the officials call for a “24” seconds violation. Fans in attendance were touched and gave Kobe and the players a well-deserved standing ovation.
What’s even more chilling, Young put on a 45-point performance on 24 attempts that night, including a notable 81% shooting from the free throw line. And we all know what those numbers meant in NBA history, right?
Looking at how exceptional Young turned out to be, we can be sure that wherever Bryant is right now, he’s very proud of him.