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#MAMBAFOREVER: Heartbreaking Last Messages, Emotional Players & Coaches At Today's Games – Everyone Pours Out Their Hearts

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It's been hours since news of legend Kobe Bryant & his daughter Gianna Bryant's deaths rocked the entire world. And it's still impossible to comprehend. From his heartbreaking last message to his "nephew" Shareef O'Neal just hours before his death to how players are remembering him in today's games, everybody's pouring out their hearts.

 

Kobe's former teammates, friends, and professional sports stars are all pouring out their hearts about one of the greatest Lakers of all time. After his last tweet was one for the player that idolized him - LeBron James - after he surpassed his all time record, Bron and the Laker team was spotted arriving back into L.A. this afternoon, understandably distraught.

 

Heartbreaking.

Shareef O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal's son who has an uncle-bephew relationship with the late legend - posted that he missed his message this morning due to sleeping in, and shared their last exchange.  Kobe's helicopter crashed just before 10am PST.

 

 

While the games at Kobe's Mamba Sports Acadmey were stopped today as soon as the news was delivered of his tragic death, the NBA games went on.  And players and coaches on the court and off struggled to keep it together.  Most fans demanded the NBA call all the games today to allow the players to recover, but that didn't happen. 

 

Coach Doc Rivers completely broke down while speaking to the media, and Coach Pop and players tributedKobe in their own way - from holding the ball for 24 second violations to honor Kobe's Lakers number to wearing sneakers in his and Gianna's honor to moments of silence before the games began:

 

 

Outside Staples Center (and at the crash site), as celebs arrived for the Grammys, basketball fans flooded the area to pay tribute to their fallen ido:

 

Celebs everywhere - most of whom are personal friends or former teammates of Kobe - everywhere poured out their hearts, especially his "big brother" Shaq:

 
 
 
 
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This first photo is especially eery in light of how @kobebryant passed, but let me give you the back story: In 2014, Kobe made some comments about Trayvon Martin’s case that I considered to be tone deaf. I criticized him on air, back when I was doing His & Hers on ESPN2, and before that show even ended, Kobe sent me a DM on Twitter and told me to call him right away. I did and we talked for an hour. Great conversation. That led to this first photo. I asked Kobe if he would sit down with me for #BETGeniusTalks. He happily agreed. His only condition was that BET pay for his helicopter. We kept in touch here and there and when I moved on to SportsCenter, @themichaelsmith and I were told that the only two shows he wanted to do were NBA countdown and #TheSix. Kobe and I started from a place of disagreement and wound up fostering a cool relationship. I literally feel like we grew up together, even though I’m older than him. The last time I sat down with him I realized he had really grown into his voice. His words about @kaepernick7 were heartfelt and meaningful. I live in Los Angeles now and I can’t begin to describe how people here feel. This city is heartbroken. People did not always like Kobe, but he was universally respected. As a journalist, you’re supposed to remain objective but I just can’t about this. I will miss his genius, his authenticity and I am saddened because for as much as he accomplished, he was just barely scratching the surface. The loss of him and his daughter... this is truly a tragedy I can’t even put into perspective.

A post shared by Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) on

 
 
 
 
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These picture are just the tip of the iceberg of our relationship. He taught me so many things in life that were necessary on and off the court. On the court he taught me how to carve out defenses and how to take my time. How to make winning my ultimate goal. Off the court he taught me to sign my own checks lol. Of course anyone who knows my story knows I’ve suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son. Even though our relationship wasn’t father/son, it was more like him being a teacher and me being his brother. I’m glad I got to be the ying to your yang as far as the locker room was concerned. It was my pleasure. I couldn’t even catch my breath today when I heard this news. I just knew if he was in a helicopter crash he would have been the one to survive. Somehow he would have jumped out and landed on his feet. I’m sitting here thinking about when we would be in practice scrimmaging and you would start the jump ball off with elbowing Sasha in the chest. Like dude it’s 10:30 in the morning lol. You think watching him play was crazy, you gotta think in practice if you scored like 8-9 buckets throughout the practice you had a great practice. I’ve seen him knock off 13-14 in a row in practice!!!! I’m still waiting for the media to come out and say wrong report. No way God took my brother this early. I know I been through my own stuff in life with using drugs and not being good to myself. When I went through that Coma situation if God would have came to me and said we would take me and spare Kobe I would have rather that happened. In honor of my brother I’m up at 4am tomorrow to get to the gym! Gigi gone give you buckets!!!! I love you brother @kobebryant

A post shared by Lamar Odom (@lamarodom) on

 

Kobe looked at his daughters, especially Gianna, as the humans who would carry out his legacy:

 

 

And we remember him mostly as the ultimate father, coach and leader:

We close out this post with a prayer from Devon Franklin:

 

Photo: Getty

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