Russell Westbrook has posted an emotional statement regarding the passing of Kobe Bryant.
The star point guard took to Instagram to react to the death of the man he deemed “a friend, a brother, a mentor,” and more:
“I’ve been stuck and not really knowing how to put all that I’ve been feeling into words over the past several days. I am devastated about the passing of Kobe & Gigi, on every level. I met Kobe when I was 16 at UCLA playing against him in a pick up game. He played like it was the NBA finals. From that point on, I decided that I wanted to emulate his Mamba mentality. At the time, there was no name for it, but I recognized in him what I always felt in myself. He became a friend, a brother, a mentor, a teacher, he defended me, he believed in me, and he taught me how to weather the storm. I can go on and on, but I want to thank you for being my idol, & inspiration. I will pray for you and your family everyday just as I do my own. I love you Kobe. My heart and prayers also go out to the other families involved in last weeks accident. #RIPKobe #RIPGigi”
Westbrook grew up outside of Los Angeles and played college ball for UCLA. Since then, he’s developed a close relationship with Kobe and his family. The two were teammates during the 2012 Summer Olympics as well as numerous all-star games.
Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder take on the Cavs, Wednesday.