Beckham's warm tribute to close friend Kobe Bryant
David Beckham has joined the chorus of tributes to Kobe Bryant, whom he called "a special athlete, husband, father and friend" whose "legacy will live on".
Bryant, 41, was killed along with daughter Gianna and seven other passengers when his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, Los Angeles County.
The tragedy has left the sporting world in mourning, with a number of footballing stars already having paid warm tributes to the basketball legend, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Beckham, who struck up a friendship with Bryant during the former England international’s time at LA Galaxy and often went to watch him play for the Lakers, joined the chorus of tributes, stating that the 41-year-old’s “legacy will live on”.
“Having to write these words is hard enough but also knowing we have lost an amazing human being and his beautiful and talented daughter Gianna is heartbreaking.
“The commitment Kobe showed to his sport was inspiring, to go through the pain and to finish a game off like only he could inspired me to try to be better. Sometimes I would only go to games just to watch that clock go down to the last 2:00 minutes knowing that we were about to witness something special.
“Kobe always talked about Vanessa and his beautiful girls and how proud he was of them. Kobe’s passion was his family and basketball. He was determined to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to embrace the sport that he loved. His legacy will live on
“My family’s love and prayers go out to Vanessa and the girls, to Kobe’s basketball family, and of course to the families of those who were tragically lost with him yesterday…”