SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — “There’s nothing more I want to do than meet Kobe.”
49ers cornerback Richard Sherman reflected on his first time meeting the NBA superstar.
It was at a Nike shoot in 2011 or 2012, Sherman said. His representative Cliff King informed Sherman that Kobe was going to be there. King asked Sherm if he wanted to meet the All-Star.
“I was like ‘c’mon now, there’s nothing more I want to do than meet Kobe. Like y’all can throw the shoot away. I just want to meet him,'” Sherman said.
Sherman is familiar with the whole “don’t meet your heroes” because they’ll somehow disappoint you or not live up to your expectations.
But as Sherm put it, “Kobe more than exceeded my expectations.”
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among two of the nine victims killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas.
The tragedy struck the world. Players around the league have honored Kobe in their own ways. Cities lit up in purple and gold. Several countries outside of the U.S. created murals of the late Laker and his young daughter.
Kobe’s impact went beyond basketball.
It’s such a devastating loss, but now people, like Sherman, are turning to the fun memories to smile and continue Kobe’s legacy.
“I ended up having him play in my charity softball game a couple months later and that was even more cool because he’s never really played the sport,” Sherman said. “Didn’t really know how to play baseball and he hits a home run of course on his first at bat.”
It’s funny because we can all believe it. Kobe was an all-around athlete.
Sherman said the two ended up forming a close relationship. Kobe would constantly push and encourage him to be the best version of himself.
The tragic news was reported as Sherman and the 49ers were on their way to Miami for Super Bowl LIV. It was hard to focus on the biggest sporting event of the year when news like this hit.
But as Sherman said, Kobe would’ve wanted everyone to focus and compete — as he did his whole life.
“I just know he wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad and mourn and to not take advantage of this opp,” Sherman said. “When you have conversations like we did, you really get a feel for what he values and who he is. He was a great man, a great father, a great player.”
You’re talking about one of the biggest competitors in the NBA and one of the biggest competitors in the NFL coming together to create a special bond. Similar mindsets, similar drive, similar hate, similar skill.
Kobe had a “dog mentality”, aka Mamba Mentality, and approached the game with more than his talent, but also his wisdom. He was so smart on the court and that showed with the way he maneuvered. And all is the same for Sherman on the field.
“One of the most genuine guys,” Sherman said. “We had conversations about the success I was having and he really liked my approach to the game and my dog mentality.”
Kobe was reportedly on his way to Gigi’s basketball tournament, a game he was going to coach, with other players and their parents. Retiring in 2016, the 18-time All-Star was just starting the next chapter of his life.
The relationship he had with his wife and their four daughters was admirable.
He was a future Hall of Famer, 5-time NBA Champion, 2-time Olympic gold medalist, businessman, Oscar winner, women’s activist, husband and most importantly — a #girldad, what he seemed to be most proud of.
“I just feel like basketball was going to be the thing he was known least for once he was all said and done man. And he was finally starting to reach his peak outside of that,” Sherman said. “He wanted to be known as a great father, a great businessman, a great philanthropist and I knew he was headed in the direction. It’s just sad that we won’t get to see his true potential.”