LeBron James wasn't ready to say goodbye to Kobe Bryant.
But the Los Angeles Lakers star forward tried his best to anyways.
Taking to Instagram with an emotional post on Monday night, James paid tribute to Bryant, who along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning.
Hours before the 18-time All-Star's passing, James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list during the Lakers' loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. In his post, James revealed he spoke to Bryant via phone just prior to the 5-time NBA champion's death.
"I’m not ready but here I go," James wrote. "Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!"
Considered two of the greatest players of their generation, James and Bryant spent much of their respective NBA careers as professional rivals and personal friends. Since retiring from the NBA in 2016, Bryant had been one of James' most vocal supporters, especially after James signed with his former team, the Lakers, in 2018.