Shaquille O’Neal is struggling to cope with the untimely death of his friend and former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and 7 others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, January 26.
Following the news, Shaq sent out a series of tributes on social media before opening up about his feelings on his podcast.
“It just hurts,” Shaq said on The Big Podcast with Shaq, as transcribed by TMZ Sports. The loss of Bryant was amplified by Shaq also recently losing his sister, Ayesha. apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, ‘Segoe UI’, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, ‘Helvetica Neue’, sans-serif”>”I’m just getting over the death of my sister. You guys told me the other day when I came in, I looked like I needed some rest. And I haven’t been sleeping after Ayesha’s death.
“All the stuff that is documented between us .. this is what brothers do. I love Kobe Bryant. I’m the first to say … I’ve got 4 rings … I couldn’t have gotten 3 without him.”
Shaq also paid tribute to Kobe shortly after the news of his passing became public.
“There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my niece Gigi & my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you and you will be missed,” Shaq wrote on Instagram. “My condolences go out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW!
“Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. We love our families. Whenever we got together I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gianna was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. I miss you already brother. This is truly unbelievable. Everyone, please keep the Bryant’s in your prayers.”
Our deepest condolences continue to go out to the Bryant family, and the families of the other 7 victims — John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan — who tragically lost their lives.